This year’s Noel O’Connell lecture will address the literary and historical background of the Táin, its transmission through the centuries, the main characters and their roles in the tale, and the possible messages it may have been intended to convey.
Táin Bó Cuailnge, is one of the most extensive tales to have been transmitted to us from the medieval Irish period and has long been accorded a special place in the literary tradition. The story depicts a pre-Christian warlike society in which bravery and honour are valued above almost all other attributes. Some would view it as a national epic, akin to the Greek Iliad or the Latin Aeneid, and indeed it has been argued that certain elements of the Táin were shaped under the influence of classical literature. Its origins can be traced back to the beginning of written literature in Irish and many would hold that it goes back further than even that.
Image credit: brush drawing by Louis le Brocquy from The Tain, as featured in translation by Thomas Kinsella.
Presented in association with the Irish Texts Society:
Professor Ruairí Ó hUiginn
Ó hUiginn received his secondary schooling at Coláiste Mhuire, Parnell Square, and then attended University College Dublin, where he was awarded a BA and an MA in Celtic Studies. He has spent periods lecturing in Celtic Studies in Uppsala University (1978-80), at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn (1981-5), and in Queens University Belfast (1985-1993). He spent the academic year 1980-1981 lecturing Modern Irish at University College Galway and in 1993 he was appointed as Professor of Modern Irish at St Patrick’s, (NUI) Maynooth, where he currently works. He is co-editor of Aspects of the Táin and of Ulidia: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Ulster Cycle.