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Queen Maebh & The Brown Bull of Cooley

Donn Cúailnge, the mythical Brown Bull of Cooley, was the largest, fiercest and most virile bull in Ireland. He roamed the vast forest and mountainside of the Cooley Peninsula and was at the centre of one of the most famous battles in Irish mythology, the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley.

The Táin took place after a jealous argument between Queen Méabh of Connacht and her husband, King Ailill mac Máta. Méabh decided to take the Brown Bull from Ulster to fight against Ailill’s prized White Horned Bull, Fionnbennach.

The legendary Cúchulainn fought his most famous fight trying to protect the Brown Bull. He single-handedly took on Méabh’s army, yet she managed to steal Donn Cúailgne and take him back to Connacht to challenge Fionnbennach.

The two great bulls had a fight to the death that lasted days. After a ferocious battle, Donn Cúailnge finally got the better of Fionnbennach and emerged victorious. Angry at Queen Méabh, he rampaged through her kingdom and then back across Ireland to Cooley. Still maddened with rage, his heart burst and he died.

Yet the spirit of the magnificent Brown Bull still lives on in Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula today.

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