KINSELLA, Thomas & Louis Le BROCQUY. The Tain. Translated by Thomas Kinsella from the Irish Táin Bó Cuailgne. Brush Drawings by Louis le Brocquy. Dublin: Dolmen Press 1985. pp. vi, , 300, . Small folio. Black cloth, image by Le Brocquy in white on upper cover, title in white on spine. Library Edition with [all] the illustrations of the first edition, in association with the University of Pennsylvania Press. A fine copy in fine illustrated dust jacket.
The Táin Bó Cuailgne – the Cattle Drive of Cooley – is the central story in the great old-Irish saga-cycle featuring the Sons of Usnech, Cuchulain, Ferdia, Maeve and the rival bulls of Connaught and Ulster, culminating in the ‘battle of the bulls’. The distinguished poet Thomas Kinsella began translating parts of the Tain while still a young man; short sections were published by Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press in 1954 and 1960. The original limited edition of 1,750 copies published in 1969 sold out within months, and has become very rare and expensive. A reduced octavo edition with only 30 of the original 130 illustrations was published in 1970, and has been many times reprinted; but the full magnificent suite of illustrations was unavailable until this Library Edition was issued in 1985. It is itself a scarce book, as the bulk of the edition was distributed to libraries worldwide, and it has not been reprinted.