Arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory, with a Preface by W. B. Yeats. The world’s foremost—and greatest—translation into English of the legends surrounding ancient Irish mythological folk hero Cuchulain.
Parts of this work are derived from some of the oldest tales in all European history, predating the Norse Sagas, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied by hundreds of years. Compiled from ancient oral and written versions of the original Gaelic, this work combines the greatest events of the life of Cuchulain and the Ulster Cycle, weaving them together into a coherent, uplifting, and highly satisfying tale of bravery, hardiness, strength, courage, and love. It is a classic in the pantheon of the Western World’s greatest literature.
Lady Gregory’s translation faithfully captures the indigenous Irish style with which she was so familiar and which was missing from all previous English versions. First published in 1902, it quickly became the standard English text of this majestic literary work—and a worldwide best-seller. It also earned Lady Gregory a prominent position as a writer within the Irish Revival.
The poet W. B. Yeats was enthusiastic over the work, starting his introduction by asserting that he thought “this book is the best that has come out of Ireland in my time. Perhaps I should say that it 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—and it tells them perfectly for the first time.”
Dedication of the Irish Edition to the People of Kiltartan
I: Birth of Cuchulain
II: Boy Deeds of Cuchulain
III: The Courting of Emer
IV: Bricriu’s Feast, and the War of Words of the Women of Ulster
V: The Championship of Ulster
VI: The High King of Ireland
VII: Fate of the Sons of Usnach
VIII: The Dream of Angus Og
X: The Wedding of Maine Morgor
XI: The War for the Bull of Cuailgne
XII: The Awakening of Ulster
XIII: The Two Bulls
XIV: The Only Jealousy of Emer
XV: Advice to a Prince
XVI: The Sons of Doel Dermait
XVII: Battle of Rosnaree
XVIII: The Only Son of Aoife
XIX: The Great Gathering at Muirthemne
XX: Death of Cuchulain
Note by W. B. Yeats on the conversation of Cuchulain and Emer
About the author: Isabella Augusta, or Lady Gregory (1852–1932), was born Isabella Augusta Persse. An Irish dramatist, folklorist, and theatre manager, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. She developed an intense interest in the Irish language and started collecting tales—oral and written—from all parts of Ireland, eventually publishing them in a number of volumes of folk material, including A Book of Saints and Wonders (1906), The Kiltartan History Book (1909), and The Kiltartan Wonder Book (1910). She is particularly remembered for her work behind the Irish Literary Revival.