Talk:Táin Bó Cúailnge

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Three distinct versions[edit]

I'll double check, but I believe that there are three disctint recensions or versions, LU, Leinster, and then the Stowe/Lecan traditions. DigitalMedievalist 05:32, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC) Lisa

Lady Gregory[edit]

Oughtn't we mention the Lady Gregory translation? Darkfrog24 14:52, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Very belated response, but Lady Gregory didn't do a translation of the Táin. She wrote Cúchulainn of Muirthemne, a collection of paraphrases of a large number Ulster Cycle tales, including a much-abridged version of the Táin. --Nicknack009 (talk) 20:43, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Quotation in opening[edit]

I removed the reference to "[Samuel Butler's version of] Homer's Odyssey" in relation to the age of the Tain because it didn't make any sense to me--surely there are a number of older vernacular translations of the Odyssey than Butler's if that's what it was trying to suggest, though even that seems odd to me--but now as the quotation exists I still don't find it satisfying. Since I do not have access to the text from which it was taken I cannot say exactly how it should read, but surely there's little evidence to claim that the Tain as we have it is older than the epics of Homer? Can somebody who knows more about all of this check this out please? ( (talk) 04:17, 14 May 2008 (UTC))

Also weird is that the claim made is that the Táin is the oldest story of Western Europe, so comparisons with the Odyssey (which is from Eastern Europe) are moot. Oh, and the Iliad is older than the Odyssey, so why pick Greece's second-oldest epic? But indeed, the cited source says, "The Táin Bó Cuailnge represents the oldest vernacular tale of Western Europe, predating both Beowulf and Homer’s Odyssey (Butler)." Maybe the point is that Butler's translation of the Odyssey is from Western Europe? But then it's trivial that the Táin is older than a translation that was published in 1900. Anyway, the source the quote it's taken from doesn't present any evidence to back up the claim, and the website is anonymous, so we have no way of determining how reliable it is. If no one presents compelling reasons to keep this weird claim in, I'll take it out in a few days. —Angr 17:30, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
It's ridiculous to claim that the Táin is older than the Odyssey itself. The oldest surviving allusion to it is the poem Conailla Medb Michuru, which is dated to c. 600. From the context we can probably assume it had been around in some form for some time before that, but how long it's impossible to say. I wouldn't be prepared to push it any further back than the 4th century. Another editor (User:Cordless Larry) added the quote, and rather than simply delete it and risk getting involved in an edit war, I modified it to what the site seemed to be saying - treating Butler's translation of the Odyssey as an English "vernacular epic". I agree the article would be better off losing it entirely, but so long as it's here it needs the qualification that it's Butler's translation rather than the Odyssey itself that it's older than. --Nicknack009 (talk) 19:01, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Could the website perhaps be saying that it's Butler's claim that the Táin is older than the Odyssey? If so, Butler certainly doesn't say it in the preface to his Odyssey translation. Anyway, I'm not prepared to take that website's word for anything. —Angr 19:39, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Since no-one has offered anything in this quote's defence, I've removed it, and, in the interests of demonstrating the age of the Táin, added some details showing that elements of the story were already in place in the 7th century. --Nicknack009 (talk) 17:08, 26 May 2008 (UTC)


Unless I am mistaken, doesn't the Táin exist in several different versions, some of which are in Old Irish and some of which are in Middle Irish? The intro section as it stands now gives the impression that it is a single text written in two different languages ("It is written in Old and Middle Irish..."). The later sections reflect the situation very accurately, but if (as I believe is the case) it exists as several different texts, each of which comes from a different source and some of which are considerably earlier than others, shouldn't the sentence in the intro reflect this? How about "The earlier and more fragmentary versions of the tale are written in Old Irish, but a later and more complete version is in Middle Irish. The story is mainly written in prose, with verse sections occurring at moments of heightened tension or emotion." The only version I have is the Book of Leinster version, incidentally. Lexo (talk) 01:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Usefulness of "Recension" as a term[edit]

This is not a very useful word to use in an encyclopedia article, because it's a technical term in textual scholarship and most people who will be reading the article will not know what it means. Most people who write the article will know what it means, because we all read Old and Middle Irish texts for fun and we're used to it; but I think that although "recension" packs a lot of info into itself, it would be more helpful to give a brief explanation about the nature of the different recensions and then to use the simple word "version" to refer to them as they arise. Lexo (talk) 01:21, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

General thoughts[edit]

There is the basis for a really fine article here, and Nicknack009 in particular deserves all praise for a lot of hard work, but right now I think it reads a little too much like an entry in a handbook for language students; it assumes too much prior knowledge of the subject and does not explain enough to the general reader. There is also, IMO, not nearly enough about the impact of the story on the Celtic Revival authors - one obscure band gets a mention for their EP, but W.B. Yeats doesn't get a mention for The Death of Cuchulainn? The Cuchulainn story is enormously influential in Irish culture and this being the main source of much of it, there should be a lot more about the impact it has had. (If I want to post a parcel in central Dublin, I have to walk past the statue of Cuchulainn in the GPO.) Lexo (talk) 01:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Thank you. The point about assuming too much prior knowledge is probably a fair one, and I'll have a look and see what can be done about that. As for Yeats and the GPO statue, I'm less sure. Yeats wrote a number of Cúchulainn plays - as detailed in the Cúchulainn article, On Baile's Strand, The Green Helmet, At the Hawk's Well, The Only Jealousy of Emer and The Death of Cuchulain, and a poem, "Cuchulain's Fight With the Sea". I've only read the last of these, but none of them actually seem based on the Táin, but on other stories from the cycle (unless they contain material from the Táin?). The Revival authors, to my limited knowledge, concentrated more on the more sentimental end of the Ulster Cycle - Deirdre, the death of Connla, Cúchulainn's death. The only part of the Táin that really seems to have attracted their attention is the fight with Fer Diad, and I'm not aware of any significant literary work based on that. In conclusion, any Revival work that directly relates to the Táin certainly deserves inclusion here (and if you're familiar with it, edit away), but more general Cúchulainn-related works should be at Cúchulainn and/or Ulster Cycle, with perhaps a brief note here directing readers there. Similarly, the GPO statue is based on Cúchulainn's death-tale, not on the Táin, and is covered at Cúchulainn (although a photo would be nice - would you be willing to take and donate one?). There's apparently a statue of Cúchulainn and Fer Diad at Ardee that would certainly deserve inclusion here. --Nicknack009 (talk) 11:11, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I can certainly take and donate a photo of the statue, although I have not had much success uploading pictures to wikipedia. The point about Cuchulainn related stuff belonging in the article on him or the Ulster Cycle is well taken, and I'll see if I can contribute anything there instead. I am as reasonably familiar with Yeats' plays about C. as I am with the Tain itself (I've actually seen performances of the whole of Yeats' Cuchulainn cycle, for example - the only reason I mentioned the last one in my original post is that it's IMO by far the best one.) Lexo (talk)

11:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I will get around to that photo, but in the meantime I have added a redirect page from a common misspelling of the title - "tain bo cualnge" now redirects to here. Incidentally, anyone who wants to contribute anything to the page I created on Aislinge Meic Con Glinne is more than welcome to do so. Lexo (talk) 00:56, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

I've reverted Jon C.'s move and subsequent edits, as they were undiscussed. The Irish title is used in many sources, including most of the ones currently used in the article. Additionally, it's consistent with the practice at virtually every other article on medieval Irish works. As such a move should require discussion; I recommend John starts a move request if he wants to move the article.Cúchullain t/c 18:19, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Cuchullain - here it is:
The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 17:41, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Táin Bó CúailngeCattle Raid of Cooley – Per WP:ENGLISH and WP:COMMONNAME. This is the English Wikipedia, not the Gaelic one, and the English name "(the) Cattle Raid of Cooley" is far more commonly used in academic sources – compare the 29,500 results for the English and 3,700 for "Táin Bó Cúailnge". That other articles are broken, too, doesn't remove the need to fix this one. Jon C. 22:42, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Oppose. The Irish name is more common in English than the Google hits suggest. For one thing, most of the hits for the English name are merely used as translations of the Irish name. For another, the Irish name has multiple spellings (with and without acute accents, with and without the i between úa and l). Angr (talk) 01:11, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Support Especially given the multiple possible spellings of the Irish name discussed just above. This is the enWP, and there is a standard English name, as the Google scholar hits show, DGG ( talk ) 01:54, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi DGG, those aren't "academic sources", the nom has searched Google, including WP mirrors, not Google Scholar. Cheers.
I shouldn't have said "academic" – that was my mistake. However, it is clear that the English name is far more commonly used in reliable non-academic sources, and almost equally in academic ones. Jon C. 09:33, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
It's not clear at all. Academic sources almost never use "The Cattle Raid of Cooley". Relying on raw numbers on a Google search tells us nothing useful - if you look at what your search on "Cattle Raid of Cooley" actually brings up, most of them refer to "Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley)" or something similar, using the Irish first as the title and clarifying its English meaning in brackets. --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:37, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
If that was the case, the number of results for the Irish name would be much closer to that of the English, not some 25,000 fewer. It's not a simple Google search – it's a Google books search. (By the by, if we did do a Google web search, it's 674k vs 42k.) Jon C. 13:10, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
As as has been pointed out, there is a variability in the spelling of the Irish and the use of diacritics. Not only that, but the fact that it's not English and has diacritics confuses OCR, so you'll see things like "T?in B? Cuailnge", "Tain Bo Cuailngc", "Tarn Bo Cuailnge" and "Tain B6 Cuail- nge" on the first two pages of results, which wouldn't show up on a search on "Táin Bó Cúailnge". Despite this, as In ictu oculi points out above, the Google Scholar results for "Táin Bó Cúailnge" still outnumber the ones for "Cattle Raid of Cooley" by some distance.
The Táin is far more an artifact of scholarship than popular culture, so scholarly conventions should be followed, and the scholarly convention in this case is Táin Bó Cúailnge. --Nicknack009 (talk) 13:26, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Actually, they're about tied. Whether intentional or not, the results posted above aren't representative of the whole picture, with "Cattle Raid of Cooley" stuck in quote marks and "Táin Bó Cúailnge" left alone. If we reverse that, Cattle Raid of Cooley comes out on top (1370 to 599), and if we put quotation marks around both of them it's 599 vs 592. Seven more mentions – hardly a landslide, is it? They're about tied in Scholar results, and the English trounces the Irish in a wider Google Books search. Jon C. 13:33, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Also, is there a policy that you can point to that supports your position that "scholarly conventions should be followed"? That seems to contradict WP:COMMONNAME. Jon C. 13:35, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Okay, you haven't read a word I've written. I will rest my case here, and trust the consensus. --Nicknack009 (talk) 13:38, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
So, multiple variations on "Táin Bó Cúailnge" are A-OK, but "(the) Cattle Raid of Cooley" has to be that exact wording? I fail to see your point here. Jon C. 14:00, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
What Nicknack's saying is that the search engine isn't picking up all the instances of "Tain Bo Cuailnge"; it's getting confused by the diacritics and is thus excluding books that do actually use the name.--Cúchullain t/c 16:50, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Without speech marks – i.e. allowing the search to find other terms almost the same as the search query, but maybe not in that exact order or with diacritics – "Cattle Raid of Cooley" still outstrips "Táin Bó Cúailnge" almost 2:1. Jon C. 14:23, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
But even that misses some books that use the diacritics. At least it did for me. I don't think Google is turning out to be terribly useful in this particular case.Cúchullain t/c 15:05, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. These Google Books results appear to be skewed. As others have pointed out, these searches are often confused by diacritics; "Tain Bo Cuailnge" without diacritics gives me 12,100 hits. In addition, the hits for "Cattle Raid of Cooley" appear somewhat skewed by use in older sources. Looking at sources published since 1980 gives us 14,400 for "Cattle Raid of Cooley" compared to 7,350 for "Tain Bo Cuailnge" plus 2,100 for "Táin Bó Cúailnge". And even this excludes sources that just call it the "Tain"/"Táin" as well as other minor variant spellings, which obviously wouldn't work as an article title, but furthers demonstrates the prevalence of the Irish name in English sources. Virtually every English speaker who encounters this work will do so under the Irish name. This is borne out in nearly all of the academic sources currently used in the article, and many others besides. Every English translation of note since 1914 calls it either "Táin Bó Cúailnge" or "Táin", including those by Joseph Dunn, Cecile O'Rahilly, Thomas Kinsella, and the most recent one by Ciarán Carson. Tertiary sources and reference works on Irish and Celtic literature almost always use the Irish, as in John T. Koch's Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. I simply don't believe that the English translation is a more common name for this work.--Cúchullain t/c 16:44, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. This is its normal title in English. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:25, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
It isn't, really, as can be seen below.--Cúchullain t/c 16:52, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. 'Táin Bó Cúailnge' or simply 'The Táin' is its normal title full stop. See #Translations below. 'The Cattle Raid' name is primarily used as a subtitle translation except where there is a political agenda. --Red King (talk) 16:50, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. This ngram suggests that "The Tain" is the common name of this subject. The two top-selling translations are Kinsella's The Tain: Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge (1969) and Carson's The Tain (2009). Kauffner (talk) 10:22, 22 December 2012 (UTC)


Just to put another iron in the fire, probably the most notable translation is that by Thomas Kinsella, "THE TAIN" (sic) (ISBN 0 19280 373 5 or ISBN 978-0192803733). The blurb on the reverse cover of my copy begins "The Táin Bó Cuailnge, centre-piece of the eight-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales... ". This seems to me as primary a source as you can get. --Red King (talk) 15:14, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

I've just noticed that the currently available edition on Amazon is named "The Táin - translated from the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge". The printer's error [A for Á] has been corrected. --Red King (talk) 15:20, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
And of course there is also Ciarán Carson's The Táin (2007, Penguin Classics). So can there really be any doubt about what is the common name? --Red King (talk) 15:25, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────An extensive list of editions and translations can be found here under "Sources". Scholarly editions have always called it Táin Bó Cúailnge or the associated variants, beginning with the very earliest ones in the 19th century. English translations include:

  • Standish Hayes O'Grady's The Táin bó Cúailnge (1898)
  • Winifred Faraday's The Cattle Raid of Cualnge (1904)
  • M. A. Hutton's The Táin (1907)
  • Joseph Dunn's The Ancient Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge (1914)
  • T. P. Cross and C.H. Slover's The Cattle-Raid of Cooley (1936)
  • Thomas Kinsella's The Tain (1969 and reprinted several times)
  • Cecile O'Rahilly's Táin Bó Cualnge from the Book of Leinster (1970) and Táin Bó Cúailnge: Recension I (1976)
  • Feargal Ó Béarra's Táin Bó Cuailnge: Recension III (1996)
  • Ciarán Carson's The Táin (2007).

Clearly using the Irish name has been common in English translations nearly since the beginning, and it's been done virtually exclusively since the 1930s in both scholarly and popular texts. The only differences are very slight diacritic and spelling variations, which often just reflects the recension being used, and sometimes shortening it to just The Táin. Clearly we can't call our article just "Táin", but the use emphasizes the prevalence of the Irish form.--Cúchullain t/c 17:46, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Requested Move: → The Táin[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was not moved. --BDD (talk) 23:09, 22 January 2013 (UTC) (non-admin closure)

Táin Bó CúailngeThe TáinThis ngram suggests that "The Tain" is by far the most common name of this subject. On Highbeam, "The Tain" -decemberists gets 314 matches, "Tain Bo Cuailnge" gets 46. The classic translation, the one likely to be familiar to the most readers, is Thomas Kinsella's The Táin: Translated from the Irish epic Táin_Bó_Cúailnge (1970), which has an Amazon sales rank of 42,801. The No. 2 translation is Ciaran Carson's The Tain: A New Translation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (2007) (82,598). (See "Retranslating The Tain", Irish Literary Supplement.) The Táin is already a redirect to this page. Kauffner (talk) 09:59, 15 January 2013 (UTC)


  • Oppose. Táin Bó Cuailnge is the name of the ancient text the article is about. "The Táin" is the name of two published translations, which are derivative works of the original and do not supersede it just because they're in English. --Nicknack009 (talk) 13:02, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
    • You realize that this is English Wikipedia, and that our guidelines say to "follow English-language usage," per WP:UE? The two translations I cite are by far the most widely read versions, according to both the text of this article and to the newspaper story I cite in the nom. Kauffner (talk) 00:29, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • And do you realise that makes you sound like a redneck bumper sticker? Seriously, anyone using the "this is the English Wikipedia" line about an article on a foreign linguistic artifact is basically declaring they've lost the argument. --Nicknack009 (talk) 09:41, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, the most common English name of the work is the "Cattle Raid of Cooley", but we all know how that went... Jon C. 09:27, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Did no one read the nomination? You can click on the link for the ngram I gave and see that "The Tain" is far more common than "The Cattle Raid of Cooley". Kauffner (talk) 11:13, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
The Tain isn't English. What does "Tain" mean? Jon C. 11:22, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is pointless. The name of the work, as evidenced in virtually all the English sources, is "Táin Bó Cuailnge". "The Táin" is just a popular shorthand that's used in the titles of some of the translations; it's insufficient for the title of the article, nor is it really more common. Additionally, the full title properly distinguishes the article from those on the other Táins, Tain, and other things called "Tain" or even "The Tain".--Cúchullain t/c 17:04, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the reasons listed above, especially Cullen's HoundJon C.'s comment that the proposed title isn't English. Also, this move is malformed to begin with, since the title The Tain is comparable to the Kojiki, the Iliad and the Bible, none of which use "the" in the title. The nominator appears to have mistaken this and at least one other work as modern novels that have "official English titles" that can be gleaned from Amazon book sales. Additionally, this work is the national epic of Ireland, an English-speaking country. It's most common name in English is the Táin Bó Cúailnge, which is sometimes glossed as "The Cattle Raid of Cooley". elvenscout742 (talk) 12:48, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The Táin is merely shorthand. All books which use that as the short title give 'Táin Bó Cúailnge' as the long form. The function desired is entirely served by having The Táin redirect here. --Red King (talk) 20:31, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.