Literary References -
British White Cattle - Ancient Breed
History - Misc.
following are links to ancient literary and historical texts which
mention white cows with red ears or white 'kine', which also means cow.
Click on the links and use your Edit and Find tabs on the menu
bar to locate the text.
"The reward of the recital of this story is a white-spotted,
red-eared cow, a shirt of new linen, a woolen cloak with its brooch,
from a king and queen, from married couples, from stewards, from
princes, to him who is able to tell and recite it to them."
The Vision of MacConglinne
". . . a perfectly white cow with red ears, and boil it down in
a lump." Irish
Tales - Morgan's Frenzy
"There were fifty white red-eared kine (cow) there and each cow
had a white calf at her side. The King had ordered Art, his Steward, to
drive them away. The King of Ireland's Son watched Art and his men trying
to do it. But no sooner were the strange cattle put out at one side of the
field than they came back on the other. Then down came Maravaun, the
King's Councillor. He declared they were enchanted cattle, and that no one
on Ireland's ground could put them away. So in the seven-acre field the
Fedelma - The Enchanter's Daughter
". . . and fill it with the milk of a white cow. . ."
The Bath of the White Cows
". . . insisted on getting seven hundred white cows with red ears. .
Progress of the Wicked Bard
Thither then the Morrigan came in the shape of a
white, hornless, red-eared heifer, with fifty heifers
about her and a chain of silvered bronze between each two of the heifers” (The Conversation
of the Mórrígan with Cú Chulainn, The Tain, Translated by
Joseph Dunn, P. 169, 2005)
". . . a bull feast was made. A
white bull killed,"
The High King
“. . .And he gave a hearty welcome to the king
of Ulster, and they slept that night in the place, and when Mongan
awoke on the morrow, he saw the fifty white
red-eared kine, and a white calf by the side of each cow, and
as soon as he saw them he was in love with them. And the king of 
Leinster observed him and said to him: 'Thou art in love with the kine,
O king,' saith he. 'By my word,' said Mongan, 'save the kingdom of
Ulster, I never saw anything that I would rather have than them.' 'By
my word,' said the king of Leinster, 'they are a match for Dubh-Lacha,
for she is the one  woman that is most beautiful in Ireland,
and those kine are the most beautiful cattle in
Ireland, and on no condition in the world would I give them except on
our making friendship without refusal.'
"They did so, and each bound the other. And Mongan went home and took his thrice (sic)
fifty white kine with
him. And Dubh-Lacha asked: 'What are the cattle that are the most
beautiful that I ever saw? and he who got them,' saith she, '. . .,
for no man got them except for . . . .' And Mangan told her how he had
obtained the kine. And they were not long there when they saw
hosts approaching the place, and he that was there, even the king of Leinster. 'What hast thou come to seek?' said Mongan. 'For, by my
word, if what thou seekest be in the province of Ulster, thou shalt
have it.' 'It is, then,' said the king of Leinster. 'To seek
Dubh-Lacha  have I come.'”
Conception of Mongán and Dub-Lacha's Love for Mongán
"In the time long ago, there was a king whose name was Conn, that
had the Druid power, so that when the Sidhe themselves came against him,
he was able to defend himself with enchantments as good as their own. And
one time he went out against them, and broke up their houses, and carried
away their cattle, and then, to hinder them from following after him, he
covered the whole province with a deep snow.
The Sidhe went then to consult with Dalach, the king's brother, that had
the Druid knowledge even better than himself; and it is what he told them
to do, to kill three hundred white cows with red
ears, and to spread out their livers on a certain plain. And when
they had done this, he made spells on them, and the heat the livers gave
out melted the snow over the whole plain and the whole province, and after
that the plain was given the name of Magh Ai, the Plain of the Livers."
"So when the time came, Cuchulain set out, and his men with him, and
they came to a wood near the dun, that had a stream running through it,
and he sent word to Blanad he was waiting there. And Blanad sent him back
word to come and bring her away at whatever time he would see the stream
in the wood turning white. And when what she thought to be a good time
came, when all the men of the place were sent out looking for stones to
build a great new dun, she milked the three white cows with red ears
had brought away by force from her father, Midhir, into the cauldron he
had brought away with them, and she poured a great vessel of new milk into
the stream, where it ran by the dun. And when Cuchulain saw the stream
turning white, he went up to the dun. But he found Curoi there before him,
and they fought, and Curoi was killed, the son of Daire, lord of the
southern sea, that had a great name and great praise on him before Blanad
was his wife. "
GATHERING AT MUIRTHEMNE
". . .O forester, whose three hundred snow-white bullocks crop
the rich cean brakes . . ." The
Georgics of Virgil
". . .save three of them were all white, and one had a black
spot. . ."
". . . on pain of forfeit for every penny . . . a white bull with
red nose and red ears."
Ceremony at Knightlow Cross
". . . with the white bull from the court of the King . . . Dynevor
Castles. . ."
The Lady of
The Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius
(Author: [unknown])to the Druids
and magical milk of white cows.
Excerpt No.1: Drostan,
the Druid of the Cruithnians (Picts), ordered that the
milk of seven score white cows should be spilled in
a pit where the next battle should be fought. This was done, and
the battle was fought by them, viz., the battle of Ard-leamhnachta, in
Every one of the Picts whom they wounded
used to lie down
in the new milk, and the poison of the weapons of the Tuatha Fidhbha did
not injure any of them. The Tuatha Fidhbha were then slain. Four of the
Cruithnians afterwards died; namely, Drostan, Solen, Nechtain, and Ulfa.
But Gub, and his son Cathluan, acquired great power in Eri, until Herimon
drove them out, and gave them the wives of the men who had been drowned
along with Donn, namely, the wife of Bres, the wife of Buas, &c.
Dead was every one they struck,
If but his blood they shed,
So that he wasted away on that account,
Whether he were a dog, or whether he were a man.
A Cruithnian Druid, of friendship,
Discovered a cure for those thus wounded,
New milk in which were washed
Those who lay wounded on the earth.
The herds of cows (i.e. white cows) of the tribes were
By just Cremhthann the headstrong,
Until the herd was milked
On the green of Ard-leamhnacht.
"Brindle cow, white speckled,
Spotted cow, bold freckled,
Old white face, and gray Geringer,
And the white bull from the king's coast,
Grey ox, and black calf,
All, all, follow me home,"
of MANY versions of 'Lady of the Lake
". . . Who offers at your shrine
Due sacrifice of milk-white kine, . . ."
Horace: The Secular Hymn,
BCE - 14 CE
". . .Beside those tents, Stood the sweet-breathing, mournful,
slow-eyed kine, With hazel-shielded horns, and gave their milk, Gravely to
merry maidens. . ."
". . . Dewy pastures sunset-dazed, At leisure paced by mild-eyed
milk-white kine, Smiled them a welcome. . ."
Legends of St. Patrick, c. 1872
by Aubrey Thomas de Vere
". . . share the flesh of the white bull sacrificed on the Alban
mount. . ."
'Tell thou a story
now, O woman of the house!' said the youth. 'I will,' quoth she, 'and do
thou put down a quarter of the wild boar, and a quarter of the log nuder
it,' so it was done. 'I have seven white cows,' said
she, 'and they fill the seven keives with milk every day, and I give my
word that they would give as much milk as would satisfy them to the men of
the whole world were they upon the plain drinking it.' The story
was true, and the quarter of the pig was therefore cooked. 'If your
stories be true,' said Cormac, 'thou indeed art Mananan, and she is your
wife, for no one upon the face of the earth possesses those treasures but
only Mananan, for it was to Tir Tairrngire he went to seek that woman, and
he got those seven cows with her, and he coughed upon them until he
learned (the wonderful powers of) their milking, that is to say, that they
would fill seven keives at one time."
MANANAN MAC LIR: HIS MYTHIC CONNEXION WITH THE lSLE OF MAN.
Mysteries of the Druids
by W. Winwood Reade is a very thorough
examination of the Druids. The first page or so may seem a bit
tedious or heavy, but if you hang in there you will find highly
interesting discussion about the Druids and their continued influence on
Christianity today. You will discover a part of our ancient history
as a people in the world today that is often given little regard in modern