The Tale of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge is hundreds of years old yet is still enjoyed by Irish children and adults alike today.
A s a young boy, the great Celtic warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill (pronounced Fee-un Mack Cool) was sent to live with the celebrated poet Finnegas (pronounced Finny-gas). Fionn acted as apprentice and learned from the old eccentric’s immense wisdom. The two settled along the banks of the beautiful River Boyne in the ancient province of Leinster.
One day Finnegas recounted the ancient tale of the bradán feasa (bra-dawn fassa), also known as the Salmon of Knowledge, to Fionn. The druids of old had told of a salmon which had eaten the nuts of the magical hazel trees that lined the bank of the river. In eating the nuts, the salmon had gained all the knowledge of the world. According to the druids, he one who ate the Salmon would gain all this knowledge for themselves.
Finnegas had spent years of his life by the edge of the river trying to catch the Salmon. After years of waiting, one day Finnegas managed to cook the legendary fish. Without a second’s delay, he passed it into Fionn’s hands and ordered the boy to cook it but not to eat a single morsel. Ever obedient, Fionn did exactly as he was instructed.
Disheartened, the old man instructed Fionn to eat all of the Salmon. However, upon finishing Fionn didn’t feel any the wiser than before. Finnegas suggested that he try sucking his thumb again. Fionn did as he was told and the moment he placed his thumb in his mouth all the knowledge of the world rushed into his head.
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