The Tain

The Tain

Introduction by:

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140455304
  • 256 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


‘[A] brilliant and altogether engaging new translation’ (Los Angeles Times) of the greatest epic in Irish literature

The Tain Bo Cualinge, centrepiece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland’s great epic, on par with Beowulf and The Aeneid. The story of the emergence of a hero, a paean to the Irish landscape, and a bawdy and contentious marital farce, The Tain tells of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, Queen and King of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the great Brown Bull of Cualige. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster’s warriors lie sick. In its first translation in forty years, Ciaran Carson brings this seminal work of Irish literature fully to life, capturing all of its visceral power in what acclaimed poets Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon individually called one of the best books of the year. 

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


“Carson’s landmark translation, the first in forty years, brings this literary gem to life in a fresh, modern retelling that rivals Thomas Kinsella’s classic translation of 1969.”
- Booklist “In vivid prose Carson has harnessed . . . the tale’s tremendous artistic power.”-Irish Voice
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