The Táin Trail

Along The Tain Trail, North Longford Lake View.

History & Info
The Táin Trail is the longest and most historic route in Ireland. It retraces the trail taken by Queen Maeve of Connaught and her armies in the Irish epic The Táin Bó Cuailgne ( The Cattle Raid of Cooley). The trail takes you not only to the legendery places of the Táin but through some of the most beautiful countryside in Ireland, land steeped in history and hiding a treasure trove of ancient sites and majestic scenery. At 365 miles in length the trail runs from Rathcroghan in Co. Roscommon, through Co.Longford, on to the Cooley Peninsula in Co.Louth and back again. It is fully signposted with distinctive Brown Bull finger post signs, as well as striking pictorial maps located in key towns along the route.

The Táin Bó Cualigne – The Cattle Raid of Cooley – is the most famous of Irish sagas and the most ancient heroic saga in Europe after the Iliad and the Odyssey. The modern version of the trail was initially set up in 1985-86 to ring the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth but was then extended to encompass the complete route followed by the rampaging armies of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connaught from Rathcroghan in County Roscommon to the Cooley penninsula.

The saga of The Táin relates the story of Queen Maeve of Connaught who, jealous because her husband Ailill’s possessions included a great white bull which she had no equal for, resolved to capture the famous Brown Bull of Cooley. Cuchulainn, the greatest of all Celtic heroes led the defence of Ulster against Maeve and her army. The story of the Táin Bo Chuailgne introduces us to an aristocratic but brutal Iron Age culture where honour and valor were jealously guarded. Inspired by the bravery of Cuchulainn, the Ulster warriors defended themselves against the Connaught hordes, but not before Cuchulainn himself had been slain fighting against overwhelming odds. The Brown Bull of Cooley engaged the prized white bull of Connaught and their own battle circled the whole of Ireland, finally coming together at the hill of Emmoo in Co.Roscommon where the final battle saw the brown bull eventually emerging victorious but mortally wounded. He returned to his home in cooley with remains of the white bull hanging from his horns and there he expired.

Despite the antiquity of the verses, the route can be readily identified. The armies of Queen Maeve set forth from her royal palace at Cruachan (Rathcroghan) and crossed into County Longford at the Shannon Fords at Tarmonbarry. Between here and Longford town was Trego, the Plain of Spears, where the armies were attacked by the Celtic war-spirit, Nemain. After another overnight halt at Granard they advanced towards Crosskeel in County Meath and from thence to Cooley.

Today the Táin Trail follows already existing roadways and is signposted. The stange events of theTáin may be pure fantasy or may have some basis, in fact it is impossible to determine. What is undeniable is that the trail traverses some of the most scenic and under-explored areas of the country.

Information on the tours and trails of County Longford can be accessed on The ‘Explore Longford’ App, available to download for both Apple iOS and Android Devices:
Android Store: http://bit.ly/1gMKZYY   Apple Store: http://bit.ly/1n104Kk

 

County Longford Tourism Office Market Square, Longford, Ireland    Phone: +353 (0)43 33 42577 +353 (0)85 8888876    Email: info@longfordtourism.ie