- Finnegas is a legendary Irish poet and Sage according to the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology.
- He is the teacher of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, according to the tale The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn.
- For years he tries to catch the Salmon of Wisdom, a fish that will grant all the world's knowledge to whoever eats it.
- He is unsuccessful until he takes the young Fionn as his charge, but when Fionn cooks for him, he burns his thumb and puts it in his mouth.
- He therefore receives the fish's knowledge, which he can access by putting his thumb in his mouth again.
- Upon eating the salmon he recommends Finn take up the name Finn to fulfill the prophecy as to who will gain its wisdom, originally he was named Demne.
- As well as being renowned for his skills in composing and reciting poetry Finnegas knew more about the ways of the world, including the secrets of the birds and animals and plants and stars, than any other man in Ireland.
Oisín and Niamh Chinn Óir.Read More
Oisín and Niamh Chinn Óir.
Oisín and Niamh Chinn Óir.
- Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a great warrior named Oisín, son of legendary Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Mac Cumhaill was the leader of Fianna – a group of great protectors who guarded the High King of Ireland – and each day Oisín and Fianna explored the beautiful green hills of Ireland as they hunted the land.
- One day, Oisín and Fianna saw a beautiful white horse in distance, and on its back was the most beautiful young woman they had ever seen. Her hair was the color of the sun and fell to her waist, and she wore a dress of palest blue studded with stars. She was surrounded by a golden light.
- As the beautiful woman and her horse drew nearer, all men stopped in their tracks, waiting to hear what she had to say. “My name is Niamh,” said the golden-haired maiden, “my father is King of the mystical land of Tír Na nÓg, a land that knows no sorrow and where nobody ever ages. I have heard wonderful things of a great warrior named Oisín, and I have come to take him with me back to Land of Eternal Youth.”
- Oisín immediately fell in love with Niamh, and although he was sad to be leaving his father and Fianna, he agreed to join Niamh on horseback to go and live in Tír Na nÓg, promising Finn MacCool that he would return to Ireland to see him again soon.
- The fine white horse galloped across silver seas into the magical land of Tír Na nÓg. As Niamh had promised, this was a land where nobody knew of sadness,and where nobody ever aged, everyone there lived forever.
- Together, Niamh and Oisín spent many happy times together, although there was a small part of Oisín’s heart that was lonely. He missed his homeland of Ireland and longed to see his father and Fianna again.
- Oisín begged Niamh to let him return to Ireland, but she was reluctant. Although Oisín thought that only a few years had passed, it had in fact been 300 years back in Ireland, since, in the land of Tír Na nÓg, time slowed down.
- Eventually, Niamh saw how much Oisín missed his family. She agreed to let him return to Ireland to see them again. “Take my magical white horse,” she told him. “Do not get off this horse, and do not let your feet touch the ground, or else you will never be able to return to Tír Na nÓg again.”
- Oisín set off across seas on Niamh’s white horse and arrived in Ireland. When he got there, he could see that things had changed. The Fianna no longer hunted green hills, and the grand castle that once housed his family was crumbling and covered in ivy.
- As he was searching for someone familiar in the green hills, Oisín came across some old men, who were having difficulty trying to move a huge rock. He leaned down from his horse to help them, but in doing so he lost his balance and fell from the horse. The moment Oisín touched Irish soil, he immediately aged the 300 years that he had missed in Ireland.
- An old, frail man, he asked the men he had stopped to help about his father Finn MacCool, and they told him that Finn had died many years before. Broken-hearted and many hundred years old, Oisín died soon after, but not before he shared legends and stories of Fianna, his father great Finn MacCool, and the magical land of eternal youth that is Tír Na nÓg. And even today in Ireland, these legends live on.
Queen MebhRead More
- To say that Queen Maeve of Connaught is a legendary figure in Irish mythology is a dramatic understatement.
- Maeve was a decisive and forceful leader who ruled over Connaught during the time of Cuchulainn, the greatest of all Irish warriors. Her beauty was famous. No High King could be crowned without first having the ceremony consummated in the royal bed, such was her fabulous domination!
- Her husband Aillil was only granted the privilege of marrying Maeve because he was that most unique of beings: a man completely without jealousy. Maeve was an excellent warrior and general, and assembled one of the mightiest fighting forces in Irish mythology when her equal status with her husband was called into question.
- Maeve was one of the daughters of Eochaid Feidlech, the High King of Ireland. She was married to Conchobar Mac Nessa, the King of Ulster, as compensation for the slaying of Conchobar's father, Fachtna Fathach.
- The marriage was not a good one though and when Maeve left her husband her father then offered his other daughter, Maeve's sister Eithne, in marriage to Conchobar.
- One of the most enduring stories about Maeve concerns the Cattle Raid of Cooley. One evening, Maeve and her husband Aillil began to tease each other about who held the higher status. Their teasing quickly grew earnest, as each vied to prove their superiority in the relationship. They were equal in birth, equal in status, and equal in power.
- So to settle the matter they counted out all their belongings. The only difference between them was that Aillil had a magnificent white-horned bull, while Maeve had nothing that could compare to it!
- Unable to bear a subordinate role in her own marriage, Maeve sent messengers to search all of Ireland for a bull that was just as splendid as that possessed by her husband. Eventually a magnificent creature was found: the Brown Bull of Cooley.
- Maeve sent a delegation to the bull's owner, Daire Mac Fiachna of Cooley, offering gold and lands if he would only agree to let her have the bull. Daire was initially inclined to grant her request, until he heard one of her messengers drunkenly boasting that if he would not sell it then Maeve would surely take the bull by force.
- So began the famous Tain Bo Cuailnge, the 'Cattle Raid of Cooley', in which Maeve assembled a great army of her allies from all over Ireland to invade Ulster to steal the bull. Thanks to the Ulster exiles in her ranks Maeve knew all about 'the Curse of Macha', which would put the enemy Ulster warriors out of action for nine days and nine nights, giving her time to complete her mission.
- But the curse did not affect the young warrior Cuchulainn, the only man who stood between Maeve and her invading army and the defenseless lands of Ulster.
- Maeve decided to negotiate and through Fergus MacRoich agreed that Cuchulainn would fight in single combat against one of her champions every day, allowing the army to move while the fight was on, and stopping once the fight was over. She even offered her own daughter in marriage to the warrior who would be victorious!
- But Maeve had already made her plans. On the eve of the final confrontation between the two armies, the Brown Bull of Cooley was smuggled into Connaught by Maeve's agents and so they retreated back to Connaught.
- The magnificent bull was placed into a new pasture where the creature was immediately set upon by Aillil's own white-horned bull, the original cause of the strife.
- Legend has it that Maeve is buried in a forty foot high stone cairn on the summit of Knocknarea in Sligo, buried upright, always defiantly facing her enemies to the north.
- Maeve was a strong and independent character, with a knowledge of magic and sorcery. She never shirked her duty, and knew well how to encourage and lead her followers. She was definitely the stronger partner in her marriage with Aillil and was always depicted as very beautiful, yet dressed for war!
- She could be harsh, jealous, vicious, scheming and domineering. Always willing to go to great lengths to assert her rightful status.
- The name Maeve has several forms including Maedbh, Medb and Medbh and is said to mean 'she who intoxicates', perhaps alluding to her role as a sovereignty Goddess. How appropriate!
Fionn MacCumhaillRead More
- Fionn Mac Cumhail or Finn MacCool was the legendary Irish warrior/hunter who led the band of Irish warriors known as the Fianna and created the Giants Causeway.
- Fionn is connected to many of the legends of the Fenian Cycle. He first came to prominence after catching and eating the Salmon of Knowledge. Another important legend tells how Fionn met his first wife Sadbh while hunting.
- She had been transformed into a deer by a druid and after Fionn, caught her she turned into a beautiful woman. She bore Fionn a child, Oisín, before befing transformed again into a deer and separating Fionn from his son for many years. Another tale tells of how Fionn in a jealous rage, pursued the lovers Grainne and Diarmuid across Ireland after they had eloped together. But the most famous legend of Fionn Mac Cumhail surrounds the Giants Causeway in County Antrim.
- The story goes that Fionn built the causeway to get to Scotland and battle with a rival giant called Benandonner. When he got there he found that the Scottish giant was asleep but also far bigger than himself, so Fionn returned back across the causeway. When Benandonner woke up he came across the causeway intent on fighting Fionn. Fionn's wife dressed up her husband as a baby and when Benandonner arrived she said Fionn wasn't home and to be quiet not to wake up the baby.
- When Benandonner saw the ‘baby' he decided that if the baby was that big, Fionn must be massive. So he turned tail and fled back across the causeway ripping it up as he went. All that remains are the ends, here at the Giant's Causeway and on the island of Staffa in Scotland where similar formations are found.
Brian BoruRead More