Scoil Naomh Fiachra

The Fight of the Bulls Story

(from The Táin Bó Cuailnge)

Queen Medb of Connacht gathered the men of Erin. She led them to Cruachan to see the battle of the bulls.

When the Brown Bull of Cuailnge saw the land of Erin, he let out three loud bellowing calls. And Finnbennach Ai (‘the Whitehorned of Aillil’) heard him. And he lifted his head and he ran to Cruachan to look for the Brown Bull of Cuailnge.

Each of the bulls saw the other and there was a pawing and digging up of the ground. They tossed the earth over them. They threw up the dust over their shoulders. Their eyes blazed red in their heads like balls of fire. Their cheeks and their nostrils swelled like blacksmith’s bellows in a forge.

Each of them charged at the other. They began to try to kill each other. The Whitehorned of Aillil stuck his horns into the side of the Brown Bull of Cooley. Then the Brown Bull of Cuailnge rushed at the Whitehorned Bull of Aillil.

They continued to strike at each other for a long time. Night fell on the men of Erin. And when night had fallen, all that the men of Erin could hear was the bellowing and roaring.

That night the bulls fought over the whole country of Ireland. Early in the morning the men of Erin saw the Brown Bull of Cuailnge coming over Cruachan. He had the Whitehorned Bull of Aillil in torn pieces hanging about his ears and horns.

The men of Erin stood up. First they did not know which of the bulls it was. Then they wanted to attack the brown Bull of Cooley when they saw that he had killed the whitehorned Bull of Aillil.

But Fergus said that he would kill anyone who attacked the bull. Then the Brown Bull of Cuailnge gave out the three loudest bellows.

Fear of Fergus held back the men of Erin from attacking him. Then the Brown Bull of Cuailnge turned towards Cruachan. He left there a heap (crúach) of the flesh of the Whitehorned, so that it was named Cruachan Aillil.

He moved on to Ath Mor (‘the Great Ford’); and he left behind the loin (lúan) of the Whitehorned. The place is called Athlone (Áth Luain).

He continued into the land of Meath. He left behind there the liver (tromm) of the Whitehorned. The place was called Ath Troim (Trim).

He raised his head and shook the remains of the Whitehorned from him over Ireland. He sent its hind leg (lárac) away from him to Port Lairge (Waterford). He sent its ribs (clíathac) from him to Áth Cliath (Dublin).

He turned his face north to the land of Cuailnge. When he reached his homeland in Cooley his heart burst in his chest and he died.

That is the end of the Fight of the Bulls.

And it is the end of the Táin Bó Cuailnge.