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Story entitled 'Torac na Taine', 1872

Identifier: Coll-97/CW154/2

Scope and Contents

Story entitled 'Torac na Taine' collected from Padruig Moirestean [Peter Morrison], crofter, Bailemhanaich, Beinn'a-Faola [Baile a' Mhanaich/Balivanich, Beinn na Faoghla/Benbecula] by Alexander Carmichael and written up by Robert Urquhart, preventive officer, who was a colleague of Carmichael's, on 17 and 18 April 1866.

The story tells of the life of Cuchulain from the discovery of his strength and fighting prowess to his death at the hands of sorcerers. The incidents of the story include how he killed an earl’s guard dog and was made to take its place guarding the castle for seven years; how he trained as a warrior at Domhain-Shear [Scotland]; when he returned to his father’s house at Grianan, Ireland with his servant Laoghaire mac Neart; how he flouted rules not to hunt the earl’s deer; made a journey over a mountain from which no one had ever returned and overcame a giant in his castle. The story continues with the Queen of Ireland, Maoim Churachan, who in competition with her new husband wanted a bull to even up their herds. Her advisor, Murchadh mac Brian said that Cuchulain had the best bull, which was called Donn Guaillionn, and so she sent him with an army to retrieve it. Murchadh’s tactic proved to be unsuccessful, so they sent Cuchulain’s friend Fear Diag mac Diamhain, with whom he had trained as a warrior, but Cuchulain outwitted him too. The third episode, describes how Gara mac Stairn, whose daughter Ros had disappeared six years before, was brought in to get the bull for the Queen. When he heard that Cuchulain had married Ros he was happy to undertake the task. Like the others, Gara was not successful and so the Queen instructed the sorcerers Feannag, Annag and Mor-Liath to get the bull even at the cost of Cuchulain’s life. The sorcerers succeeded by inflicting a poison wound on Cuchulain. The story ends with Cuchulain dying and being buried beside his friend Fear Diag mac Diamhain; Ros giving birth to their son Draodharch na Beinne-Bige; Laoghaire mac Neart looking after Grianan and the Queen getting the bull Donn Guaillionn.

On folio 27r, Carmichael notes 'These two tales were transcribed for me by my Preventive man Robert Urquhart. They are not correctly written. Iocar S Uist 25 April 1872 A[lexander] A[rchibald] Carmichael'. [Iochdar, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist] It notes that Peter heard the tale when he was a young boy and is now teaching Do'ull Do'allach [Domhnall Domhnallach or Donald MacDonald] in Aird, Benbecula.


  • Creation: 1872

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 91 folios ; 31.5cm x 21.5cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 16r, line 1 to folio 27r, line 33

Related Materials

Coll-97/CW104/19 - a copy of this story.


MacGilleathain, Calum I., 'An Donn Ghuailleann' Gairm, air. 29 (Am Foghar, 1959), pp. 67-71
Maclean, Calum, 'A Folk-Variant of Tain Bo Cuailnge from Uist', ARV: Journal of Scandinavian Studies, vol 15 (1959) pp. 160-181.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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