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Centre for Irish Studies Seminar Series: ‘Weighing the Evidence: manuscript versus local history & folklore sources for the topographic aspects of Táin Bó Cúailnge’
January 26 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Irish Studies Seminar Series, Semester 2, 2022-23
‘Weighing the Evidence: manuscript versus local history & folklore sources for the topographic aspects of Táin Bó Cúailnge’
Guest Speaker: Paul Gosling, Atlantic Technological University
Guest Respondent: Professor Louis de Paor, Centre for Irish Studies, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, University of Galway
The famous early medieval story, Táin Bó Cúailnge (cattle-raid of Cooley) is replete with placenames, many of them invoked to identify and explain locations where Queen Medb’s forces camped, fought or simply passed through on their quest to capture the Brown Bull of Cooley. In studying same, scholars have relied almost exclusively on the text versions of the story as preserved in twelfth century manuscripts such as Book of the Dun Cow and the Book of Leinster. However, local history and folkloric sources also contain a significant amount of information relating to the movement of Queen Medb, Cúchulainn and the Ulster forces.
This illustrated seminar will review the folk and local history evidence and asses its value as a source for the topographic aspects of the Táin.
Paul Gosling is an archaeologist and a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland. He lectured on built heritage in the Department of Heritage and Tourism at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (now Atlantic Technological University) from 1997 to 2019. His research interests are focused on archaeological survey and his published work includes surveys of the field monuments of Co. Galway, and Clare Island in Co. Mayo, as well as topographic analyses of several medieval towns including Dundalk (1991), Tuam (1995, 2013) and Mullingar (2022). He is currently researching the placename and route aspects of the great medieval epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge (the cattle raid of Cooley). His recent publications on same include ‘The Route of Táin Bó Cúailnge Revisited’ in Emania 22 (2014), and a suite of Archaeology Ireland Heritage Guides entitled ‘The Route of Táin Bó Cúailnge’: Co. Louth (2015), Cos Roscommon and Longford (2016) and Cos Westmeath and Meath (2019).
Picture: Line-drawing, ‘Maev’s second meeting with Fergus’ by Seaghán Mac Cathmhaoil (Joseph Campbell). From the 2nd edition of Mary Hutton’s The Táin: An Irish Epic Told in English Verse (Talbot Press, 1924).