Mesca Ulad ‘The intoxication of the Ulstermen’

  • Old Irish, Middle Irish
  • prose
  • Ulster Cycle
  • Old Irish Middle Irish
  • Old and Middle Irish
prose (primary)


Ulster Cycle
Ulster Cycle
id. 1797


Cú Chulainn
Cú Chulainn
Young Ulster hero and chief character of Táin bó Cuailnge and other tales of the Ulster Cycle; son of Súaltam or Lug and Deichtire (sister to Conchobor); husband of Emer (ingen Forgaill)

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Watson, J. Carmichael [ed.], Mesca Ulad, Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series, 13, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1941.
CELT – edition: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Hennessy, William M. [ed. and tr.], Mesca Ulad or The Intoxication of the Ultonians, Todd Lecture Series, 1.1, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1889.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, and Osborn Bergin [eds.], Lebor na hUidre: Book of the Dun Cow, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1929.
CELT – edition (pp. 1-338): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
50–53 Diplomatic edition from LU
[tr.] Watson, J. Carmichael [tr.], “Mesca Ulad”, Scottish Gaelic Studies 5 (1938): 1–34.
[tr.] Carey, John [tr.], “[Various contributions]”, in: John T. Koch, and John Carey (eds), The Celtic Heroic Age. Literary sources for ancient Celtic Europe and early Ireland & Wales, 4th ed., 1, Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications, 2003. [Various].
§ 82. Provisional translation based on the edition of J. Carmichael Watson (1941).
[tr.] Gantz, Jeffrey [tr.], Early Irish myths and sagas, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
[tr.] Guyonvarc'h, Christian-J. [tr.], “L’ivresse des Ulates”, Ogam 12 (1960): 487–506.

Secondary sources (select)

Bondarenko, Grigory, “Autochthons and otherworlds in Celtic and Slavic”, in: Dunja Brozović-Rončević, Maxim Fomin, and Ranko Matasović (eds), Celts and Slavs in central and southeastern Europe: proceedings of the Third International Colloquium of the Societas Celto-Slavica, Dubrovnik, September 18–20, 2008, 3, Zagreb: Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje, 2010. 281–302.  
The separation of the lower Otherworld from the human middle world is explained as a ‘historical’ fact both in medieval Irish tales and in northern Russian folklore. The problem of subterraneous autochthones (áes síde or Chud’) and their enmity towards humans is posed in order to determine the conflict in the narratives. The special localization of the Otherworld is associated in the texts discussed with the coming of the sons of Míl and the beginning of Goidelic Ireland or with the coming of Russian settlers and the beginning of history in the Russian North. The very notion of the separation between this world of humans and the Otherworld is closely related to the beginning of history as such. When history begins the sacred has to be separated from the profane (belonging to mortals). When this separation is performed the binary opposition between the lower Otherworld and the upper world of humans becomes a distinctive feature of the early Irish mythological narrative or Northern Russian and Komi folklore. Both Celtic and Slavic examples seem to reflect a transition stage when cosmological elements (such as the lower world, supernatural chthonic entities etc.) are superimposed on the emerging historical consciousness.
Ulster Institutional Repository – eprint: <link>
Sayers, William, “Róimid Rígóinmit, royal fool: onomastics and cultural valence”, Journal of Indo-European Studies 33 (2005): 41–51.
Sayers, William, “Three charioteering gifts in Mesca Ulad and Táin bó Cúailnge : immorchor ṅdelend, foscul díriuch, léim dar boilg”, Ériu 32 (1981): 163–167.
Watson, J. Carmichael, “Mesca Ulad: the redactor’s contribution to the later version”, Ériu 13 (1942): 95–112.
Thurneysen, Rudolf, Die irische Helden- und Königsage bis zum siebzehnten Jahrhundert, Halle: Niemeyer, 1921.  

Contents: Part 1 (chapters 1-23): Allgemeines; Part 2 (chapters 1-85): Die Ulter Sage.

Internet Archive: <link>

External links

Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
Page created
October 2010, last updated: January 2024