An Táin Bó Cualinge translates literally into English as “the driving-off of cows of Cooley” or more commonly as “The Cattle Raid of Cooley”.
It is the title of a legendary tale from early Irish literature which tells of a war against Ulster by Queen Medb (Maeve) of Connacht. She intends to steal the stud bull Donn Cualinge and is repelled primarily by the young mythical warrior Cú Chulainn.
She is reputed to be buried beneath a cairn at the top of the mountain (big hill) of Knocknarea, on the Coolera peninsula in Co. Sligo, and not far from the back of my house.
I was looking out at it one day and had the idea for a project, and today is the culmination of it.
The aim was to firstly educate a group of teenage musicians on the archaeology, mythology and geology of Knocknarea and its cairn (thanks to Auriel at Seatrails for this), and then for us to write and record a piece of music about some aspect of the story of Queen Maeve. I have blogged previously about the great day we had recording with the teenagers.
Below is the result – a collaboration between myself, a few colleagues, and a big gang of teenage singers, violinists and one very talented young drummer. We decided to focus on the battle itself, and we hope we have produced a suitably epic piece.
All credits are underneath the video on YouTube, but here I’d especially like to thank Sligo County Council and Creative Ireland who provided the funding for this project. We all hope you enjoy it.