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Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster

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One of the leading lights of the late-19th-century Irish literary renaissance, the Irish writer, folklorist, and playwright Lady Augusta Gregory was instrumental in collecting and preserving the folklore of her country. She translated these tales of the legendary Cuchulain — an Irish Achilles who was the greatest of ancient Ireland's fabled Knights of the Red Branch — from One of the leading lights of the late-19th-century Irish literary renaissance, the Irish writer, folklorist, and playwright Lady Augusta Gregory was instrumental in collecting and preserving the folklore of her country. She translated these tales of the legendary Cuchulain — an Irish Achilles who was the greatest of ancient Ireland's fabled Knights of the Red Branch — from the original Irish, melding variants of each tale to achieve, enthralling accounts of the great knight's birth and boyhood deeds, superhuman exploits in love and war, and premature death — along with the unforgettable story of the beautiful, overpowering love demonstrated by his wife, Emer. All of these events are recounted in the same plain and simple style Lady Gregory first heard in stories told by her childhood nurse. Of this book by his friend and patroness, W. B. Yeats said, "I think this book is the best that has come out of Ireland in my time. Perhaps I should say that this is the best book that has ever come out of Ireland; for the stories which it tells are a chief part of Ireland's gift to the imagination of the world." Students and scholars of folklore or Celtic mythology will prize this edition for its authentic recounting of the tales and general readers will be delighted both by the imaginative richness of the tales and the beautiful style in which they are told.


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One of the leading lights of the late-19th-century Irish literary renaissance, the Irish writer, folklorist, and playwright Lady Augusta Gregory was instrumental in collecting and preserving the folklore of her country. She translated these tales of the legendary Cuchulain — an Irish Achilles who was the greatest of ancient Ireland's fabled Knights of the Red Branch — from One of the leading lights of the late-19th-century Irish literary renaissance, the Irish writer, folklorist, and playwright Lady Augusta Gregory was instrumental in collecting and preserving the folklore of her country. She translated these tales of the legendary Cuchulain — an Irish Achilles who was the greatest of ancient Ireland's fabled Knights of the Red Branch — from the original Irish, melding variants of each tale to achieve, enthralling accounts of the great knight's birth and boyhood deeds, superhuman exploits in love and war, and premature death — along with the unforgettable story of the beautiful, overpowering love demonstrated by his wife, Emer. All of these events are recounted in the same plain and simple style Lady Gregory first heard in stories told by her childhood nurse. Of this book by his friend and patroness, W. B. Yeats said, "I think this book is the best that has come out of Ireland in my time. Perhaps I should say that this is the best book that has ever come out of Ireland; for the stories which it tells are a chief part of Ireland's gift to the imagination of the world." Students and scholars of folklore or Celtic mythology will prize this edition for its authentic recounting of the tales and general readers will be delighted both by the imaginative richness of the tales and the beautiful style in which they are told.

30 review for Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster

  1. 4 out of 5

    L. Alexandra

    If I were to sing you a song of brave Cuchulain, hero and hound, loyal warrior, beardless boy better than three times fifty men of Ulster, I would surely run out of breath before you yet understood the heart of him, yet knew his many feats and the deeds that drew his name across the rocky ridge of the world in ogham. This book is a contagious classic, better for its aged language and seasoned anachronism, and better still for Lady Gregory's meticulously subtle whittling away of the density of th If I were to sing you a song of brave Cuchulain, hero and hound, loyal warrior, beardless boy better than three times fifty men of Ulster, I would surely run out of breath before you yet understood the heart of him, yet knew his many feats and the deeds that drew his name across the rocky ridge of the world in ogham. This book is a contagious classic, better for its aged language and seasoned anachronism, and better still for Lady Gregory's meticulously subtle whittling away of the density of the dialect that preceded this revised version. While the plot seems scattered at first, and the characters too numerous and complex to contain, I promise you that if you push through the pages you will find a past more glorious than the greatest action movie, more soaked in blood and brain, more steeped in righteous rage and honest tradition than any myth we could make today. Lady Gregory, with a careful and keen eye, strung together the old tales, trimming and stitching, binding and blending each, cutting out their contradictions and connecting their time lines until one fluid narrative came together to blanket us with heroes long lost to the laurels of time and battle. And I swear to you by the oaths my people swear by, that you will not find another collection of Western mythos with greater color or creativity, greater attention to detail or divination, than Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. But trust not the storyteller alone, for the Achilles of Ireland, and a better man besides, Cuchulain, the Hound of Culain, said it best himself, "It is little I would care...if my life were to last one day and one night only, so long as my name and the story of what I had done would live after me." And live they do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevincl

    I grew up in Dundalk (Dún Dealgan, homeplace of Chú Chulainn), I still remember Chu Chulainn's castle a few hundred yards from my home. I also grew up with these legends, and had to study them in the old Irish text which is completely different to the modern Irish language. Lady Gregory's account, while the english is not fantastic, there were many mistakes in the prose, but she did totally captivate the legend that was Chú Chulainn and in doing so, has brought this legend to the masses. The sto I grew up in Dundalk (Dún Dealgan, homeplace of Chú Chulainn), I still remember Chu Chulainn's castle a few hundred yards from my home. I also grew up with these legends, and had to study them in the old Irish text which is completely different to the modern Irish language. Lady Gregory's account, while the english is not fantastic, there were many mistakes in the prose, but she did totally captivate the legend that was Chú Chulainn and in doing so, has brought this legend to the masses. The stories themselves bear much resemblance to the Greek legend of Achilles, Chú Chulainn being considered half-god, half-man. The Red Branch Knights like the heroes of ancient Greece, warriors, poets, philosophers, men of honour. I really enjoyed the free flowing text, and I especially enjoyed the ease of which the stories were told, without taking away from the original texts. I would recommend this book to anybody looking to grab a taste of Irish legends and the ways of the people many moons ago.

  3. 4 out of 5

    A. Mary

    Gregory takes great care to use the syntax of common speech, which gives her versions of these stories a distinctly Irish voice, something that is sacrificed in polished English prose.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    First Thoughts: A great heroic epic. The story of Cú Chulainn, hound of Ulster and what is.. basically an Irish demingod. A story of a young man grasping a prophesy trading a long happy life for a shot one filled with glory and one where his name would be passed down through generations. Familiar story aint it? But the Irish version has its its own set of tropes. The laws of hospitality even between enemies, honour, bonds and just the general style of the writing. Its also the very first time where First Thoughts: A great heroic epic. The story of Cú Chulainn, hound of Ulster and what is.. basically an Irish demingod. A story of a young man grasping a prophesy trading a long happy life for a shot one filled with glory and one where his name would be passed down through generations. Familiar story aint it? But the Irish version has its its own set of tropes. The laws of hospitality even between enemies, honour, bonds and just the general style of the writing. Its also the very first time where ive seen one of the heroes of these stories act in profound shame over one of his hasty actions and directly offer apology and change from the better in one of the old stories. The interaction with the Sidhe was also extremely interesting, and ive never quite seen a cultures stories reflect the supernatural in quite this way before. It certainly gives me a better appreciation for lore about Fae in modern works. Otherwise the formatting (as it often is when you get stories that old) was a little bumpy at times but manageable, and the translation still kept the stories interesting and distinctly different than some of the other works out of western Europe/Britain. I wouldnt recommend reading it if you were not already interested in this kind of thing. But Its something I enjoyed and looking back it helps me appreciate some other stories more too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ivan Llanes

    This is very personal, I know Cuchulainn is all but forgotten these days, but I just love this book. The power, the sheer strength it conveys washed me away when I first read it, years ago. I just can`t understand how come it is not more popular. The book is a re-write of a mythological cycle collected in medieval Irish texts. Lady Gregory turned these scattered legends into one only book, apt for a modern reader. Now imagine an ancient world where warriors ride charriots into battle, where druids This is very personal, I know Cuchulainn is all but forgotten these days, but I just love this book. The power, the sheer strength it conveys washed me away when I first read it, years ago. I just can`t understand how come it is not more popular. The book is a re-write of a mythological cycle collected in medieval Irish texts. Lady Gregory turned these scattered legends into one only book, apt for a modern reader. Now imagine an ancient world where warriors ride charriots into battle, where druids hold a wisdom which has come down to them from Prehistory and conceal it by speaking in riddles, imagine pagan gods who cross the border of the Otherworld and help human heroes. See Ireland, see Europe as it was during Iron age, when kings fought over cattle and every banquet might turn into a bloody feud. This book is a time machine into a long forgotten world. Forget history novels, forget Simon Scarrow. These are real Celts talking for themselves. Nothing can be more exciting: For my husband is pleasant Conall of the great shield, the Victorious; he is proud, going with brave steps up to the spears of the fight; he is proud coming back to me after it, with the heads of his enemies in his hands. Damn, ain`t it cool??

  6. 5 out of 5

    Raro de Concurso

    Lo confieso. No lo he podido terminar. Lo he dejado al 40%. El tema suena fantástico, pero su lectura es como un capítulo de Tom y Jerry, pero con nombres irlandeses impronunciables. Y en vez de un ratón y un gato, una plaga de "marditos" roedores perseguidos por los mismos gatos. Continuos episodios de valientes guerreros que o bien destrozan al enemigo ellos solos, como les cortan la cabeza y siguen hablando, como se teletransportan, como pegan saltos propios de spiderman. Y mucha repetición de Lo confieso. No lo he podido terminar. Lo he dejado al 40%. El tema suena fantástico, pero su lectura es como un capítulo de Tom y Jerry, pero con nombres irlandeses impronunciables. Y en vez de un ratón y un gato, una plaga de "marditos" roedores perseguidos por los mismos gatos. Continuos episodios de valientes guerreros que o bien destrozan al enemigo ellos solos, como les cortan la cabeza y siguen hablando, como se teletransportan, como pegan saltos propios de spiderman. Y mucha repetición de las cosas, y descripciones que sólo aportan sueño. En fin, espero la reacción airada de algún irlandés que quiera poner mi cabeza en la punta de su lanza, pero es lo que hay. Ah, y nada comparable con la saga artúrica. Ésta es mucho más amena y divertida.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A book read for background in understanding old myths and symbolism in Yeat's poetry. To a modern mind, it might be hard to read in places. The myths seem to be similar in theme to tall tales, as the heroes are capable of taking on armies single-handed. Warriors are overstuffed with pride, often tricked into fighting for slight causes. A book read for background in understanding old myths and symbolism in Yeat's poetry. To a modern mind, it might be hard to read in places. The myths seem to be similar in theme to tall tales, as the heroes are capable of taking on armies single-handed. Warriors are overstuffed with pride, often tricked into fighting for slight causes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamaya Bookworm

    This book provides some background in Irish mythology useful for understanding the poetry of W.B. Yeats. It's rather morbid, like a lot of mythology; most of the plots consist of heroes killing each other at the slightest provocation, or sometimes for no reason at all. It's like a Shakespeare tragedy... everyone dies at the end. This book provides some background in Irish mythology useful for understanding the poetry of W.B. Yeats. It's rather morbid, like a lot of mythology; most of the plots consist of heroes killing each other at the slightest provocation, or sometimes for no reason at all. It's like a Shakespeare tragedy... everyone dies at the end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Superb language and stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike Mastropietro

    Men of Ulster stories. Language is old timey and folklore-y so not the easiest read, but as a rookie to these stories I enjoyed them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claire S

    Object of parody in 'Ulysses' and 'Two Birds'... Object of parody in 'Ulysses' and 'Two Birds'...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manda

    Ever since I was a little kid, these were some of my favorite stories, and I think Lady Gregory's version is probably the most complete and readable version of this particular hero cycle. Ever since I was a little kid, these were some of my favorite stories, and I think Lady Gregory's version is probably the most complete and readable version of this particular hero cycle.

  13. 4 out of 5

    L. Zedda-Sampson

    Helpful with my essay of a mythological hero.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anonymous Writer

    The Celtic mythology is one of the most intriguing mythology that existed in the whole world. Besides being very original, the Celtic myths have also inspired several writers and poets alike. During the late nineteenth century the Irish Revival played a major role in the translation of Celtic myths into the English language. Such myths were often used by the Romantics, the ones that considered national legends a great source of inspiration. Yeats was one of those poets that attempted to use Cel The Celtic mythology is one of the most intriguing mythology that existed in the whole world. Besides being very original, the Celtic myths have also inspired several writers and poets alike. During the late nineteenth century the Irish Revival played a major role in the translation of Celtic myths into the English language. Such myths were often used by the Romantics, the ones that considered national legends a great source of inspiration. Yeats was one of those poets that attempted to use Celtic myths in his beautiful and awe-inspiring poems that are considered the national treasure of the Irish. When thinking about mythology, in general, we shall consider it the treasure of the collective unconscious, like Carl Gustav Jung would say. Myths, legends, they are like the dreams of a culture. They were kept for centuries in the legends of folk people, becoming part of the folklore. Lady Augusta Gregory was an Irish woman that attempted to translate such Celtic myths into the English language. She wrote two books that made Irish myths more popular among the people. One deals with the gods, while the other is about the great hero that was called Cu Cuchulain. Cu Cuchulain is the most famous Celtic hero from the Celtic mythology. He is like any ancient hero: brave and powerful. He can be compared to Heracles, the Greek hero that had a lot of strength and a brave heart. Cu Cuchulain is very brave and often helps people to win battles, such as in the great battle/war of the bulls against a foreign queen. From the beginning, his life seems different. He is the son of the daughter of the king of Ulster and the god Lug. That makes him a demigod, a powerful one. When he was a boy he killed a hound from the feast of the king, being named Cu Cuchulain. A prophecy said that he would become famous, and yet he would die young. He had a son, but he killed him by mistake. He has many lovers, but Emer is the most famous of them. Emer became jealous one time, after he fell in love with a fairy. His death is also very popular. After breaking the taboo of eating dog meat, he became weak and his enemies attacked him and he died, in a courageous manner. The stories about heroes are becoming very popular nowadays. Children and teenagers are very attracted to super-heroes, not knowing that the popularity of heroes has had a very long tradition. All the mythologies have had their heroes, each being known for their brave acts. The stories of heroes teach us to act bravely, to be courageous despite the many enemies and obstacles that we face in our life. Each story can teach us virtues, such as friendship, courage, calmness, and so on. Such ethical issues can become appropriate for adults, as well, to make them remember the virtues of human nature, despite the hardships we encounter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rousse Z

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Cartwright

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Woodland

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sue Bridgwater

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave/Maggie Bean

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Vernon

  26. 5 out of 5

    Esoldra

  27. 5 out of 5

    john Berry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara Soper

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josef Schmo

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