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Cattle raiding was a popular pursuit in early Irish society given that the land was largely devoid of currency until after the Anglo-Norman invasions and the subsequent reorganisation of lucrative key settlements. Therefore, in the preceding centuries, livestock, clothing and ornate artefacts were central to this barter economy. Moreover, with these symbols of wealth came prestige. Normally, wealth and prestige could have been advanced through either manual labour or marriage dowries with the great and the good. But for some, it was more appealing and considerably easier to simply take what you wanted, by force, from rival kin. The most famous example of this sport in full swing is captured in the Tain Bo Cualigne in which the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht invade Ulster in a thwarted bid to carry off the great Brown Bull. Theirs, however, is another story…

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