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.

Valley of the River Boyne. By Jule_Berlin [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Valley of the River Boyne. By Jule_Berlin [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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. 

“Salmon of Knowledge” – Irish Stamp from An Post. Image Source: writingsinrhyme.com
“Salmon of Knowledge” – Irish Stamp from An Post. Image Source: writingsinrhyme.com

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.

After a while, Finnegas returned to the camp but the second he saw the expression in Fionn’s eye his heart sank. Finnegas asked the young boy if he had indulged in the forbidden fish. Fionn responded that while cooking the fish he had burned his finger and started sucking his thumb to ease the pain.

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.

Disheartened, the old man instructed Fionn to eat the rest of the Salmon. Yet upon finishing Fionn didn’t feel any wiser than before. Finnegas suggested that he try sucking his thumb again. The moment Fionn placed his thumb in his mouth all the knowledge of the world rushed into his head.
It was this incredible knowledge and wisdom gained from the Salmon of Knowledge that allowed Fionn to become the leader of the Fianna, the famed heroes of Irish myth.
Gain Wisdom with Our Favorite Salmon of Knowledge Themed Jewelry
Salmon Of Knowledge Brooch by Declan Killen, US$139.00
Salmon Of Knowledge Brooch by Declan Killen, US$139.00
Silver Salmon Of Knowledge Brooch, US$55.00
Silver Salmon Of Knowledge Brooch, US$55.00

 

Salmon Of Knowledge Pendant by Declan Killen, $79.00
Salmon Of Knowledge Pendant by Declan Killen, $79.00

 

Posted by:Molly

<p>Hi there! I’m a Digital Marketing Specialist here at Blarney Woollen Mills. I love learning all about Irish culture and history, and sharing everything I’ve learnt through our blog!</p>