Translations of the Táin – Part 2


The aim of Kinsella’s translation is to convey the spirit of the older Lebor na hUidre version of the story. While it is not a direct translation, he describes it as ‘a close compromise with one’ (Kinsella 1969: xi).  He has also added the remscéala (pre-tales) taken from the Book of Leinsteir version to provide a context for the main events in his translation creating a more cohesive narrative. Louis le Broquay produced shadowy ink illustrations to accompany and accentuate the language of Kinsella’s translation of which I have provided a taste:


This was the Brown Bull of Cuailnge –

dark brown dire haughty with young health

horrific overwhelming ferocious

full of craft

furious fiery flanks narrow

brave brutal thick breasted

curly browed head cocked high

growling eyes glaring

tough maned neck thick and strong

snorting mighty in muzzle and eye

with a true bull’s brow

and a wave’s charge

and a royal wrath

and the rush of a bear

and a beast’s rage

and a bandit’s stab

and a lion’s fury.

                                    (Kinsella 1969: 49)

Kinsella’s translation of the Táin may be inaccessible to many now due to Covid-19. However, included below are links to other translations which have been digitised and are accessible for free online until you can access a copy from your local library.



  • Aoife Walshe


Further Resources:

The Celtic Literature Collective hosts translations of Early Irish Literature from manuscript sources. Access using

The Story Archaeology podcast created by Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody has a series called ‘Circling the Táin’ which discusses the remsceala of the Táin. Access the first episode using…

National Folklore Archive podcast has episode discussing the Táin Bó Cuailgne which can be accessed using


CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts has translations of both manuscript versions of the Táin which can be accessed using Translations are by Cecile O’Rahilly.

Project Gutenberg hosts a free eBook of Joseph Dunn’s 1914 translation of the Book of Leinster version of the Táin which can be accessed using


Modern Translations:

Gregory, Augusta, (2004), ‘The War For the Bull of Cuailgne’’, Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology, London, pp. 439 – 497.

T. P. Cross and C.H. Slover, (1936) Ancient Irish Tales, London: 281 – 327

J. Dunn, (1914), The Ancient Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge, 'The Cúalgne Cattle-raid', (London)

M. A. Hutton, (1907) The Táin. An Irish Epic Told in English Verse (Dublin)

L. W. Faraday, (1904) The Cattle Raid of Cualgne (Táin Bó Cuailnge), London (Grimm Library, no.4) (English)

Standish Hayes O'Grady, (1898) in: Eleanor Hull, The Cuchulinn Saga, Dublin (abridged English transl.)

CELT: Táin Bó Cuailgne, Recension I, ed. and trans. Cecile O'Rahilly (Dublin: DIAS 1976)

CELT: Táin Bó Cuailgne from the Book of Leinster, ed. and trans. Cecile O'Rahilly (Dublin: DIAS 1970)



Dillon, Myles, (1994), Early Irish Literature, Dublin.

Gregory, Augusta, (2004), ‘The War For the Bull of Cuailgne’’, Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology, London, pp. 439 – 497.

Jackson, Kenneth (1964), The Oldest Irish Tradition, Cambridge.

Kinsella, Thomas (1969), The Táin, Oxford.

MacKillop, James, (2005), Myths & Legends of the Celts, London.

Mallory, J. P. (2016), In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology & Early Irish Literature, London.

Ní Bhrolcháin, Muireann, (2009) An Introduction to Early Irish Literature, Dublin.

O hOgain, Daithi, (1991), Myth, Legend & Romance: An Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition, England.