The vast and interesting epic literature of Ireland has remained, for the most part, inaccessible to English readers until these last sixty years. In 1853, Nicholas O'Kearney published the Irish text and an English translation of "The Battle of Gabra," and since that date the volume of printed texts and English versions has steadily increased. Now there lies open to the ordinary reader a considerable mass of material illustrating the imaginative life of medieval Ireland.
Of these Irish epic tales, "The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel" is a specimen of remarkable beauty and power. The primitive aspects of the story are made evident in the way that the plot turns upon the disasters that follow on the violation of taboos, by the monstrous nature of many of the warriors, and by the absence of any attempt to explain the beliefs implied or the marvels related in it. The powers and achievements of the heroes are fantastic and extraordinary beyond description. The natural and extra-natural constantly mingle, yet nowhere does the narrator express surprise. The technical method of the tale, too, is curiously and almost mechanically symmetrical, after the manner of savage art. Both description and narration are marked by a high degree of freshness and vividness.