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Promoting mutual understanding between the peoples of Britain and Ireland through young people. Press key F5 on keyboard to start Slide Show. Ireland in Schools. Sefton Pilot Scheme. Finn & the Fawn Narrative Poetry & Physical Drama. Neil Williams

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Slide1 l.jpg

Promoting

mutual

understanding

between the

peoples of

Britain and

Ireland through

young people

Press key F5 on keyboard to start Slide Show

IrelandinSchools

Sefton Pilot Scheme


Finn the fawn narrative poetry physical drama l.jpg

Finn & the FawnNarrative Poetry & Physical Drama

Neil Williams

AST (Drama), Maricourt Catholic High School, Maghull

‘Ireland in Schools’ Liverpool Pilot Scheme Sefton Council


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Note for teachers

Main text – Finn & the Fawn by Neil Williams

Full text

Stanza by stanza

Other texts for children about Finn

The Story of Bran– from Favourite Irish Fairy Tales by Sionbhe. Lally

The Salmon of Wisdom– from Favourite Irish Fairy Tales by Sionbhe. Lally

Finn & the Salmon of Knowledge– from The Cool MacCool, a narrative poem by Gordon Snell

Reference

About Finn 1 – his qualities

About Finn 2 – the Finn cycle

Finn’s headquarters – Hill of Allen

Map of Ireland – counties & towns

NLS Planning Sheets– pdf format

Menu


Note for teachers l.jpg

Aims

I wrote the narrative poem ‘Finn & the Fawn’ and the accompanying framework to demonstrate how Drama can be used to deliver and enrich the National Literacy Strategy and other curriculum areas in the Creative Arts.

It was piloted with Year 5 teachers and children at St Edmund’s & St Thomas Catholic Primary School in Waterloo, Sefton, as part of the pilot scheme being run by Sefton Council and ‘Ireland in Schools’ to develop a Creative Arts Irish pathway through the curriculum.

Finn & the Fawn

Finn MacCool is Ireland’s most famous mythical hero, the leader of a band of warriors who hunted, fought, conducted raids, lived an open-air nomadic life and defended Ireland against invaders. The poem tells of how Finn’s wife, Sadbh, came to him in the form of a fawn and was later spirited away by ‘the Dark Druid of the Men of Dea’. The other main characters are their son Oisín and Finn’s famous hounds, Bran and Sceolan. These were said to be his cousins, his mother’s sister having been turned into an animal during pregnancy by magic.

Framework & method

I provided for the pilot school an overall framework for:

staging the poem as a physical theatre without stage or props, while also

fulfilling some of the key text objectives of the NLS in Year 5,

meeting the main requirements of the Drama curriculum, and

stimulating cross-curricular activities, particularly in the Creative Arts.

The framework is reproduced here in pdf format. The classroom teachers did their own more detailed planning, particularly for addressing appropriate word and sentence level objectives in the NLS. One group of children acted as narrators, while the rest became the actors, a few providing the main characters, the others representing the scenery and background. The narration was complemented by a wide range of Irish music, taken from CDs, and live percussion. The teachers used the framework as the bases for a series of lessons in the Literacy Hour and beyond which occupied some ten hours in the Spring Term, 2003. The exercise culminated in a live performance on the evening of 12 March and was recorded on video.

Appraisal

Thanks to the teachers, Jo Horrocks and Kate Kerr Goodaker, and the children, the whole exercise was a great success in bringing alive not just the core of the National Literacy Strategy and the Drama curriculum but also other areas of the curriculum, including Art, Geography, ICT and Music. Moreover, it involved all the children, even those who usually avoided participation.

In future, however, I would rotate the narrators in order to give all children the opportunity to become involved in the action. The narrators, all volunteers, looked with envy as their classmates not only enacted the poem but also formed imaginative physical feats, transforming themselves into rivers, forests and a castle with towers, turrets and a creaking drawbridge.

I am delighted to say that the framework is being taken up by other schools, one of which has kindly provided the planning for the first of a six week scheme of work based on Finn & the Fawn. It is reproduced here in pdf format. I should like to thank my fellow Drama AST, David Jessop of Birkdale Primary School, for providing this scheme and for his help in putting together this presentation

Note for teachers


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1

Let us sit near the fire

And tell a tale of old,

Of adventures and monsters,

And of heroes so bold.

So as the flames flicker,

And we watch the smoke climb,

Let us go back to County Kildare,

In Ireland, through the mists of time.

2

Our hero is a hunter,

His name, Finn MacCool.

No man was better,

He knew all the rules.

Out each day with his favourite

hounds ... Bran and Sceolan, Skiu-lin

They’d jump and they’d bound.

But Finn, he moved so quietly,

Silently following the deer.

Then, fearlessly aiming

His bow, bright and clear.

3

One day, Finn wandered far from home

Into the land of Dea; and there alone

In the green valley’s shade,

A lovely peaceful fawn

Grazing quietly,

In the light of early morn.

But what was strange

And difficult to explain,

Were the dogs,

Quiet and tame.

Indeed, these two

Jumped and frisked with the fawn,

And she did with them

In the pink light of dawn.

4

Now Finn, he saw this

And was amazed by this strange sight.

So he led the fawn home with him

In the early morning light.

5

In the distance he saw his castle

Tall and high and grand.

He saw its towers, its turrets,

Its drawbridge down on the land.

The doors creaked slowly open

And Finn went right inside

With his faithful loyal hounds

And the fawn close by his side.

6

And when inside,

What a sight to see!

The fawn he’d brought home

Had changed mysteriously.

And in its place,

In the middle of the hall

Stood a beautiful young woman

Majestic and tall.

‘My name is Sadbh,’ she said, Saive

And then explained how she

Had come under a spell, cleverly cast

By the Dark Druid of the men of Dea.

Because she had refused to marry the man

As a fawn she was forced to survive,

Hunted and chased and hounded,

Trying desperately to keep alive.

But now she was in the land of Finn

The spell had fallen apart,

And a beautiful woman had reappeared

And soon she captured Finn’s heart.

7

The wedding soon took place

The castle rang with songs and cheers.

And a future life of happiness, they hoped,

Would last throughout the years.

And Finn, so anxious about the spell

Would never leave her side,

Not even to go hunting

In the fields and forests wide.

8

But ... within a year of their marriage,

Fearsome men sailed from across the sea

Keen to rob and plunder

And destroy all of Ireland, aggressively.

The drums began to beat

A blood curdling battle cry.

War was declared in a moment!

Some men were soon to die.

And Finn, he joined the men

To keep his country free,

His beloved Ireland, he wanted safe,

And peaceful as it should rightly be.

9

But while young Finn

Was battling for his very life,

Dark forces were gathering

And moving towards his wife,

Who was soon to be a mother,

Carrying their first child,

And thinking of their future,

She gently began to smile.

10

The Dark Druid of the Men of Dea

Moved stealthily into the land of Finn,

And with his magic spells he changed himself,

Into our hero, and his evil was about to begin.

He appeared with two hounds,

Just like Sceolan and Bran,

And called out loud to Sadbh,

As part of a cunning plan.

She ran to greet her husband,

Or so she innocently thought,

Not realising, until it was too late,

And by the Druid she was caught.

And straight way she was taken

Back to the lands of Dea,

Where she became a fawn again

And was no longer free.

11

And Finn, just seven days later

Back from the war he strode,

And found his castle empty,

Deserted, and stoney cold.

No sign of Sadbh could he find

Not even a single clue,

As where she’d gone, or what went wrong,

He didn’t know what to do.

The villagers, they told him

Of how Sadbh had been lured away,

And Finn, he immediately

Began his search, both night and day,

To find his wife he loved

And for the next seven years,

He looked both far and wide

In a vale of tears.

12

Until one day, on a riverside,

In a lonely glade he found

A young boy with blond straight hair,

Sitting, alone, without a sound.

And then,

Bran and Sceolan went up and licked him,

On his face and on his hands,

And they started barking joyfully,

And the boy seemed to understand

Because he showed no fear,

And smiled and laughed so free.

And although he could not speak,

Finn realised who he could be.

He was the image of his mother, Sadbh,

Doubt of that, there was none,

And Finn, he named him Oisín, Aw-sheen

His love, his joy ... his son.

13

And after many years,

Oisín spoke like other men,

And told his father how

He remembered when

He had been brought up

And cared for by a fawn,

Until a Druid took her away,

Leaving him alone, forlorn.

14

And so, Finn and Oisín

Faced the future, side by side

One looking for a mother.

The other for his bride.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide6 l.jpg

1

Let us sit near the fire

And tell a tale of old,

Of adventures and monsters,

And of heroes so bold.

So as the flames flicker,

And we watch the smoke climb,

Let us go back to County Kildare,

In Ireland, through the mists of time.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide7 l.jpg

2

Our hero is a hunter,

His name, Finn MacCool.

No man was better,

He knew all the rules.

Out each day with his favourite

hounds ... Bran and Sceolan,*

They’d jump and they’d bound.

But Finn, he moved so quietly,

Silently following the deer.

Then, fearlessly aiming

His bow, bright and clear. * pronounced Skiu-lin

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide8 l.jpg

3

One day, Finn wandered far from home

Into the land of Dea; and there alone

In the green valley’s shade,

A lovely peaceful fawn

Grazing quietly,

In the light of early morn.

But what was strange

And difficult to explain,

Were the dogs,

Quiet and tame.

Indeed, these two

Jumped and frisked with the fawn,

And she did with them

In the pink light of dawn.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide9 l.jpg

4

Now Finn, he saw this

And was amazed by this strange sight.

So he led the fawn home with him

In the early morning light.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide10 l.jpg

5

In the distance he saw his castle

Tall and high and grand.

He saw its towers, its turrets,

Its drawbridge down on the land.

The doors creaked slowly open

And Finn went right inside

With his faithful loyal hounds

And the fawn close by his side.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide11 l.jpg

6

And when inside,

What a sight to see!

The fawn he’d brought home

Had changed mysteriously.

And in its place,

In the middle of the hall

Stood a beautiful young woman

Majestic and tall.

‘My name is Sadbh*’ she said,

And then explained how she

Had come under a spell, cleverly cast

By the Dark Druid of the men of Dea.

Because she had refused to marry the man

* Saive

As a fawn she was forced to survive,

Hunted and chased and hounded,

Trying desperately to keep alive.

But now she was in the land of Finn

The spell had fallen apart,

And a beautiful woman had reappeared

And soon she captured Finn’s heart.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide12 l.jpg

7

The wedding soon took place

The castle rang with songs and cheers.

And a future life of happiness, they hoped,

Would last throughout the years.

And Finn, so anxious about the spell

Would never leave her side,

Not even to go hunting

In the fields and forests wide.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide13 l.jpg

8

But ... within a year of their marriage,

Fearsome men sailed from across the sea

Keen to rob and plunder

And destroy all of Ireland, aggressively.

The drums began to beat

A blood curdling battle cry.

War was declared in a moment!

Some men were soon to die.

And Finn, he joined the men

To keep his country free,

His beloved Ireland, he wanted safe,

And peaceful as it should rightly be.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide14 l.jpg

9

But while young Finn

Was battling for his very life,

Dark forces were gathering

And moving towards his wife,

Who was soon to be a mother,

Carrying their first child,

And thinking of their future,

She gently began to smile.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide15 l.jpg

10

The Dark Druid of the Men of Dea

Moved stealthily into the land of Finn,

And with his magic spells he changed himself,

Into our hero, and his evil was about to begin.

He appeared with two hounds,

Just like Sceolan and Bran,

And called out loud to Sadbh,

As part of a cunning plan.

She ran to greet her husband,

Or so she innocently thought,

Not realising, until it was too late,

And by the Druid she was caught.

And straight way she was taken

Back to the lands of Dea,

Where she became a fawn again

And was no longer free.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide16 l.jpg

11

And Finn, just seven days later

Back from the war he strode,

And found his castle empty,

Deserted, and stoney cold.

No sign of Sadbh could he find

Not even a single clue,

As where she’d gone, or what went wrong,

He didn’t know what to do.

The villagers, they told him

Of how Sadbh had been lured away,

And Finn, he immediately

Began his search, both night and day,

To find his wife he loved

And for the next seven years,

He looked both far and wide

In a vale of tears.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide17 l.jpg

12

Until one day, on a riverside,

In a lonely glade he found

A young boy with blond straight hair,

Sitting, alone, without a sound.

And then,

Bran and Sceolan went up and licked him,

On his face and on his hands,

And they started barking joyfully,

And the boy seemed to understand

Because he showed no fear,

And smiled and laughed so free.

And although he could not speak,

Finn realised who he could be.

He was the image of his mother, Sadbh,

Doubt of that, there was none,

And Finn, he named him Oisín* * Aw-sheen

His love, his joy ... his son.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide18 l.jpg

13

And after many years,

Oisín spoke like other men,

And told his father how

He remembered when

He had been brought up

And cared for by a fawn,

Until a Druid took her away,

Leaving him alone, forlorn.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide19 l.jpg

14

And so, Finn and Oisín

Faced the future, side by side

One looking for a mother.

The other for his bride.

Williams, Finn & the Fawn


Slide20 l.jpg

The Story of Bran

Favourite Irish Fairy Tales by S. Lally, Poolbeg, 1-85371-777-0, pp 2-7

The younger sister of Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s [Fee-yun Mac Koo-wil] mother was very beautiful. She married the chief of the Fianna [Fee-yunna] of Ulster but did not know that her husband had already promised his love to a fairy woman.

When the fairy woman heard of the marriage she was jealous. She stole the new bride away and cast a spell on her, turning her into a hound. While the enchantment lasted, the hound gave birth to two pups.

Fionn found out what had happened and forced the fairy woman to undo her wicked spell. However the two pups could not be changed so Fionn took them into his care. He called them Bran and Sceolan [Skiu-lin].

They grew up to be swift and beautiful hounds. Bran was small and wise, with more than human understanding. She was Fionn’s favourite hound. He gave her a collar of gold to wear and led her on a silver leash.

One day, when Fionn and his men were out hunting, a fawn started up before them. They chased it till men and dogs were tired, all except Fionn, Bran and Sceolan, who followed the fawn into a deep valley.

Suddenly the fawn stopped and lay down. Bran and Sceolan knew at once that it was an enchanted creature. They gently licked its face and neck. Fionn was surprised but trusted the wisdom of his hounds and did not harm the fawn.


Slide21 l.jpg

He turned to go back to the castle of the Fianna and the fawn followed. As they passed through the gates of the castle it turned into a beautiful maiden with long golden hair.

‘My name is Sive [Saive],’ she explained. ‘The Dark Druid changed me into a deer for refusing his love. But here in the castle of the Fianna I am free of his power.’

Fionn fell in love with Sive and she became his wife. For a whole year they were together. Then Fionn had to go away to wage battle against an enemy of Ireland.

While he was gone, Sive watched for his return. One day she saw a cloud of mist coming towards the castle and in the mist she thought she saw Fionn with Bran and Sceolan at his heels.

She ran out to meet them. The mist opened. The Dark Druid, not Fionn, was there. Sive tried to turn back but the druid struck her with a hazel rod, turning her into a fawn once again. He set his dogs on her and they disappeared into the mist.

Fionn was heartbroken. He searched for Sive in every part of Ireland. Bran and Sceolan were the only hounds he brought with him because he could trust them not to harm Sive if they found her.

At the end of seven years he gave up the search. Then one morning while he was hunting on the steep side of Benbulben, his hounds raised their voices and raced into a valley. Fionn followed and found Bran and Sceolan driving the other hounds back from a golden-haired boy. Fionn questioned him but the boy could not speak. ‘We will take him home with us,’ Fionn said.


Slide22 l.jpg

Bran and Sceolan loved the little boy and played with him constantly. After a while he learned to speak and told Fionn of a deer whom he loved dearly. He remembered an evil man who would speak to the deer and go away in anger.

At last the angry man struck the deer with his hazel rod and forced her to follow him, leaving the boy all alone in the valley where Fionn had found him.

Fionn realised that this was his son. He gave him the name Oisín [Aw-sheen] which means little fawn.

Years passed but Fionn hoped always to find Oisín’s mother. One misty morning he was hunting on Benbulben. Bran started forward, baying at the scent of a deer. Fionn could not see in the mist. He was afraid that the deer was Sive and forgot that he should trust Bran to know. To silence her, he struck her with her silver leash. At first Bran wondered at being struck by Fionn. Then she looked sadly at him and turned away. She ran down the mountainside to the dark lake which leads to the other world and plunged into it. Fionn was sorry for what he had done but he never saw Bran again.

Yet still on moonlit nights Bran and Sceolan can be seen, playing among the thickets, where the castle of the Fianna once stood. And sometimes when the mist of morning covers Benbulben, the cry of a hound in chase echoes from its hidden peak.


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The Salmon of Wisdom constantly. After a while he learned to speak and told Fionn of a deer whom he loved dearly. He remembered an evil man who would speak to the deer and go away in anger.

Favourite Irish Fairy Tales by S. Lally, Poolbeg, 1-85371-777-0, pp 37-40

The Fianna of Ireland were noble fighting men. Their motto was ‘Truth in our hearts, strength in our hands, our deeds according to our word.’

No man could join the Fianna [Fee-yun] until he was able to recite twelve books of poetry, defend himself against the spears of nine warriors, run through woods without breaking a twig, leap over a stick the height of himself, pass under a stick as low as his knee and take a thorn from his foot while running.

The chief of the Fianna [Fee-yunna] was Cumhall [Ko-wal], father of Fionn. Fionn was only a small child when his father was killed in battle by the men of Clan Morna. His mother was afraid that Clan Morna would try to kill Fionn also. She asked two wise women to take him to a safe place and care for him.

The wise women took Fionn to a lonely dwelling deep in the woods of Slieve Bloom. The young boy learned from them all that they knew. They taught him to swim by throwing him into a deep pool and leaving him to make his own way out of it. To make him learn to run swiftly they made him herd hares in a field which had no fence or hedge.


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Fionn grew up straight and tall. At last the time came for him to leave the wise women and go to the ancient druid, Finnéigeas [Finn-ay-gas], to learn the art of poetry.

Finnéigeas lived in a small cabin beside the river Bóinne. He had chosen that place because it is always beside water that poetry is revealed to poets. Near to his cabin was a deep pool overhung by the branches of the nine hazel trees of wisdom. Nuts of wisdom fell from this tree into the pool and in that pool lived Fiontán, the salmon of wisdom.

It was foretold that whoever first ate of this salmon would possess all the wisdom in the world. Finnéigeas had fished for seven years, but failed to catch the salmon of wisdom. A short time after Fionn came to him he fished for the salmon and succeeded in catching it.

Finnéigeas was delighted. He instructed Fionn to cook the salmon but not to eat any of it. Fionn cooked the salmon with care, turning it over and over. When it was ready he served it to his master.

Finnéigeas saw that Fionn was changed. In his eyes shone the light of wisdom. ‘Tell me boy, have you eaten any of this salmon?’ he asked.


Slide25 l.jpg

‘No master, I have not, but as I turned the salmon I burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

Finnéigeas knew then that Fionn had received the wisdom of the salmon. ‘Here,’ he said, returning the fish to him, ‘take the salmon of wisdom and eat it since you have tasted it first.’

Fionn ate the salmon and became possessed of all the wisdom of the world. From that time, he had only to bite the thumb which he had burned and he could discover the secrets of hidden magic and see into the future.

‘Now you must go away from this place for there is nothing more I can teach you,’ said Finnéigeas sadly. Fionn took leave of his teacher, and in return for his kindness he made this poem:

How sweet and lovely is May

The blackbird whistles in the living wood

And the cuckoo is singing, singing, singing;

Small bees carry their harvest

Reaped from the flowers;

The harp of the woods plays its music

And the river rushes are whispering together.


Slide26 l.jpg

Finn & the Salmon of Knowledge burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

From The Cool MacCool – a narrative poem about Finn – by G. Snell, O’Brien Press, 0-86278-176-0

Long ago, beneath the sea,

There grew a magic hazel-tree.

Its nuts, enchanted by a spell,

Had Knowledge hidden in the shell.

The tree stood very near a well,

And there a salmon used to dwell.

He didn’t need to go to school,

For when the nuts fell in the pool

He ate them up, and said with glee:

‘I really fancy nuts for tea -

And thanks to all those tasty dishes

I’m now the brainiest of fishes!’

A poet also heard the rumour -

It put him, in the best of humour.

He’d catch the salmon in his net,

And then, what knowledge he would get!

Finegas was the poet’s name -

To everybody he’d proclaim:

‘I am the best and brightest bard

From Aughnacloy to Oughterard!’


Slide27 l.jpg

For seven years time seemed to crawl, burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

And still, the salmon didn’t call.

The poet got a bit depressed

Until one day he had a guest:

‘My name’ he said, ‘is Finn Mac Cool,

And I would like to go to school

And learn to be a proper poet.

If there’s a way, I’m sure you know it.’

Finegas shook him by the hand:

‘I am the finest in the land.

If poetry is your delight,

I’ll teach you how to write it right!’

And so Finn stayed and studied hard

To learn the secrets of the Bard.

One day he looked into the river

And saw a sight that made him quiver:

A silver salmon, huge and proud,

Was talking to himself out loud!

Finn listened, then began to shout:

‘That’s what I’ll write an ode about!

To find a real live talking salmon

Is like being given bread with jam on!

Perhaps I’ll join him for a swim:

I’d really learn a lot from him!’


Slide28 l.jpg

Finegas heard his cries of joy. burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

He said: ‘That Salmon’s mine, my boy!

I’ve waited seven years to meet it -

And now at last I’m going to eat it!

This river bank will be the venue:

Don’t write an ode, just write the menu!’

The cunning bard said: ‘Salmon dear,

From what you say, it’s very clear

That you’re the wisest fish around.’

‘If any wiser can be found,’

The salmon said, ‘Then I’m a clam!

A genius is what I am -

My brain’s the most enormous size.’

‘Then,’ said the Bard, ‘you get the prize!’

The salmon said, ‘A prize, no less!

What can it be?

Now let me guess.

A bowl of worms? A cup? A shield?

A holiday in Sellafleld?’

The poet said, with hungry eyes:

‘It is a Bumper Mystery Prize.

You wonder now, what can it be?

Then come up here, and you will see!’

The salmon knew the risk he took

In popping up to take a look ...


Slide29 l.jpg

About Finn 1 – his qualities burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

As a member (fénnid) of a fían and its leader, Finn was to some extent an outlaw; yet he was also a poet, diviner, and sage, and therefore endowed with traditional and, in early Ireland, institutional attributes.

His parentage combined warrior and visionary elements. His father, Cumhall, was a leader of the Tara fían in the service of Conn Cetchathach, High King of Ireland. His mother was Muime (or Muireann), daughter of a druid, Tadg, who ruled over the otherworld in a fairy-mound underneath Finn’s headquarters at the Hill of Allen in Co. Kildare.

After his father’s death in battle Finn recovered his father’s lost magical powers and was fostered. His training by women mirrored that of Cú Chulainn. One collection, describing Finn’s first encounter with people other than his fosterers, referred to him as the Lad of the Skins, a feral creature. His unique daring in jumping a chasm won him the favours of Donait, a woman of the otherworld. As well as being endowed with physical courage, Finn possessed a gift of special insight which he could summon by biting his finger.

According to one account of the origin of this gift, he sustained an injury when a fairy-woman caught his finger in the door of the fairy-fort at Femun (Slievenamon, Co. Tipperary) while he was pursuing Cúldub, an otherworld thief who stole the Fianna’s food. Thereafter he found himself inspired with imbas (great knowledge) whenever he puts the damaged finger into his mouth.

In folklore the injury was caused by Finn’s burning his thumb on the Salmon of Knowledge from the Boyne, which he was cooking for his druid teacher. By chewing his thumb to the marrow - an activity known as teinm láida (chewing the pith) or by putting it under his déad feasa (tooth of knowledge) he can attain the state of wisdom. This power also brings him the gift of poetry, and many poems celebrating the beauty of nature in the cycle are ascribed to him.

Everything about Finn is associated with magic. His wife, the mother of his son, Oisín, came to him in the form of a deer. Bran and Sceolan, his famous hounds, are said to be his cousins, his mother’s sister having been turned into an animal during pregnancy by magic.


Slide30 l.jpg

About Finn 2 – the Finn cycle burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

The story of Finn and the fawn, Sadbh, his wife, is part of the Finn cycle (or the Ossianic cycle) of Irish myths and legends, a body of stories centred on the exploits of the mythical hero Finn MacCool, his son Oisín (whence ‘Ossianic’), and other famous members of the fian (warrior-band) of Finn.

Collectively known as the Fianna, they hunted, fought, conducted raids, and lived an open-air nomadic life. In the main tale of the Finn cycle, the Hunt for Diarmaid and Gráinne, Finn appears as a vindictive and jealous older man when, grieving for his dead wife, he is promised the young Gráinne as his wife. Initially threatened by the youthful Diarmuid, he eventually gets Grainne back by refusing to use his magical powers to save his dying rival.

Set in the third century AD, the Finn cycle is one of the four into which medieval Irish literature is divided, the other three being mythological, Ulster (the wars between Ulster and Connaught and the exploits of Cú Chulainn) and historical (or king).

Literary conventions reflecting society

This set of literary conventions surrounding Finn reflects a feature of early Irish society in that such bands of warriors did live outside the structures of that society while retaining links with it. Cormac mac Airt, the legendary King of Tara, commanded the Fianna, often requiring them to defend the country against natural and supernatural invasions. One of the characteristics of the cycle is its frequent celebration of the beauty of nature, and birdsong, mountain, river, and seashore are frequently evoked in sensitive and vivid language.

A recurrent theme

In folk tradition Finn is still alive and ready to help Ireland in time of need.

Associations

Finn (‘bright, ‘fair’) has been seen as a variation on Lug, a divinity of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He is also associated through his name with light and is linked to Welsh Gwynn and the Celtic origins of Vienna. He combines the world of nature, connected with the fían, and that of culture, expressed in poetry.


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Hill burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

of

Allen

1

The Hill of Allen, as seen from the south, where Finn MacCool used to have his headquarters.

Also know as the Hill of Almhuin ‘(the Great Neck’), it is situated four miles to the north-west of Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

It rises 676 feet in height and is surrounded by the Bog of Allen.

Much of the Hill of Allen is forested like this and, with the surrounding area, provided the training ground for the band of warriors.

The Hill of Allen, as seen from the south, where Finn MacCool used to have his headquarters.

Also know as the Hill of Almhuin ‘(the Great Neck’), it is situated four miles to the north-west of Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

It rises 676 feet in height and is surrounded by the Bog of Allen.

Much of the Hill of Allen is forested like this and, with the surrounding area, provided the training ground for the band of warriors.

While a tower was being built on the top of the hill in the middle of the nineteenth century, giant human bones of a man and a woman, both well over six feet tall, were discovered. The man’s were said to be those of Finn and both sets of bones were re-interred in a hollow space under a rock.

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Hill burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’

of

Allen

2

Much of the north side of the hill of Allen has been removed by quarrying, to the dismay of conservationists and others interested in Ireland’s heritage.

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Map of Ireland – counties & towns burnt my thumb and put it in my mouth.’


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