Paddy Brown’s Cattle Raid of Cooley has returned to the web, I’m pleased to see. The strip won Best Irish Webcomic in the 2011 Irish Comic News awards, and ICN’s Kevin Squire’s tipped it one of his five of the best Irish graphic novels, so I’m thinking we should be paying more attention.
“KS: So, what started your ‘obsession’ – if I may call it that – with Irish folk legends, in particular the Ulster Cycle? I can see from your end notes to the Cattle Raid that you have put a lot of research into the project.
PB: My interest in the Ulster Cycle is a thing in itself, and I’m not really all that interested in Irish folk legends in a wider sense. I stumbled on a copy of Thomas Kinsella‘s translation of the Táin in a second hand bookshop while looking for research material for a comic I was thinking of doing based on the notion of a historical King Arthur in the post-Roman “dark ages”, and thought this stuff was just so much more immediate and visceral, the characters so much more vivid, than any Arthurian story I’d read, and it was not only Irish but specifically northern.
What especially interested me was that there was a whole cycle, it wasn’t just one story.It seems to be a trait of my personality that if I find something that excites me, whether that’s a band or an author or whatever, I want to know absolutely everything about it, so I went looking for all these other stories in libraries, and just got more and more into it. I ran a website for a while trying to collect them all. This would have been in the late 90s, the web was still quite a novelty and I was excited by that as well. I’ve even learned a bit of Old Irish. A couple of years ago I went to an academic conference on the Ulster Cycle in Coleraine, and was pleased to find very little of it went over my head.“