The Cattle Raid of Cooley is a webcomic in the Ulster Cycle series by Patrick Brown, adapting the ancient Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge. In Iron Age Ireland (two generations after The Ulster Cycle: Ness) queen Medb of Connacht leads an invasion of the Ulster, seeking to deprive the rival kingdom of its prize stud bull. Thanks to the intervention of two watching deities, her army is opposed only by Cú Chulainn, a sixteen-year-old rookie border guard, and his charioteer Láeg. Like its predecessor, The Cattle Raid of Cooley is improvised in ink, without script or pencils. Unlike its predecessor, it is being serialised in its original colour - red.
It began in August 2008 and updates every Wednesday. The latest installment, page 198 (page 17 of chapter 8), was posted on 24 April 2013.
Seven print issues have now been published, and are available from paddybrown.co.uk for £3.50 each.
Pronounced "Maeve". Queen of Connacht. Her father was Eochu Feidlech, the High King of Ireland. She likes men generally, but hates Conchobar, king of Ulster, and has raised an enormous army to invade Ulster and steal its prize bull, Donn of Cooley.
Pronounced "AL-yil". He's Medb's husband, and king of Connacht, but he knows who's boss. Medb has the big ideas, Ailill has to work out how to make them happen.
Pronounced pretty much as it looks. A hero in his youth (see The Ulster Cycle: Ness), Fergus was once king of Ulster, but now he has defected to Connacht with a contingent of warriors. His relationship with Medb isn't entirely professional.
Pronounced as it looks. Nominal leader of Fergus's gang of Ulster exiles, Fergus's foster son, and eldest son of Conchobar, king of Ulster.
Promounced "DUV-thach" with a guttural ch as in Scottis loch or German Bach. Another Ulster exile, Fergus's oldest friend. Also appears as a much younger man in Ness. Never much of a warrior even in his younger days, Fergus values him for his good memory and his cynicism, a quality Fergus lacks.
Meaning "Culann's Dog" (we'll find out why at some point), and pronounced "KOO CHUL-in", with a guttural 'ch'. He's sixteen years old, graduated from Ulster's youth corps early thanks to his precocious talent, and on his first adult assignment, as a border guard.
For other depictions, see Cú Chulainn in comics.
Pronounced roughly "LOY". Cú Chulainn's charioteer and all-round logistical backup. From a lower class but more experienced than his master.
Pronounced "KON-uh-chuh-ver", with the 'ch' guttural as before. King of Ulster - a throne he and his mother conned Fergus out of. We've recently discovered why Fergus defected, and Conchobar's son Cormac followed him. Why does Medb hate him so much? We'll find out.
Pronounced roughly "LOO". God of, among other things, skill, martial valour and glory - the exciting side of war. He has personal reasons not to be neutral in this particular conflict.
Meaning "great queen", and pronounced, roughly, "MOR-ree-yan". Goddess of, among other things, carnage - the nasty side of war. Often appears as a crow.
Praise for The Cattle Raid of Cooley
"a tale full of earthy reality, full of the dirt of ancient lands and the blood of ancient races"
Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet
A different adaptation of the same story can be found in Cló Mhaigh Eo's Irish language graphic novel An Táin. Michael Hall and Gary Hamilton's Cúchulainn: Champion of Ulster adapts the legends of the hero's youth.
See Cú Chulainn in comics for others.
- Gavin Burrows reviews The Cattle Raid of Cooley #1, 8 April 2009
- Richard Bruton reviews Ness and The Cattle Raid of Cooley #1, Forbidden Planet, 8 January 2010
- Review by Rol Hirst, May 2010
- Review by Danny McLaughlin at Uproar Comics, April 2012