Skip to main content

Irish Mythology: Welcome

Cattle Raid of Cooley

Cattle Raid

Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin) is a legendary tale from the Ulster Cycle.

The 1914 full-text edition of this tale pairs an adaptation of the English translation of Joseph Dunn (1914) with the Irish transcription of Ernst Windisch (1905).

Library Information

This guide will connect you with resources to find books, journal articles, and information from reference sources. If you have any questions, just ask us!


Welcome to the Irish Mythology Research Guide at the University of Kentucky Libraries. 

This guide will connect you with resources to find books, journal articles, information from reference books, as well as primary texts and other sources.

Topic Overview

Irish mythology is made up of the early Irish literature and oral traditions which can be categorized into four main cycles: the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle (also known as the Ultonian or Red Branch Cycle), the Fenian or Fianna Cycle and The Historical Cycle or the Cycle of Kings.

The stories of the Mythological Cycle describe battles of otherworldly groups (Partholonians, the Nemedians, the demonic Fomhóire and the Fir Bholg, the divine Tuatha Dé Danaan, and the Milesians) that invaded Ireland.

The Fenian Cycle is made up of tales about a band of warriors, led by Fionn mac Cumhaill, who defended and kept order in the land.

The Ulster Cycle is a large body of heroic tales of characters like Cúchulainn, Conchobhar, Fergus, Caoilte and Deirdre.

The Historical Cycle is less heroic or magical as the other cycles and covers the stories of mythical and legendary kings and kingships.

The stories are found in most of the Irish manuscripts, particularly in the Book of Leinster, the Book of Fermoy, the Book of Ballymote, and the Book of the Dun Cow. Other legends, such as the Children of Lir, appear in later manuscripts. Originally written in Gaelic, these books contain numerous tales that have been translated into English (as well as other languages). Translations or retellings can include one or more cycles or only portions of a single tale.

Subject Guide

Jennifer Bartlett's picture
Jennifer Bartlett
1-85 William T. Young Library, 500 S. Limestone, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY 40506

Ask a Librarian