Finn Mac Cummal

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Finn Mac Cummal

In ancient Irish romance, captain of the Fianna warrior band and the center of the Ossianic tales. His father, Cumhal, chief of the clan Basena, was slain at Castle Knock by the rival clan Morna, but his mother succeeded in saving him from the enemy. He was brought up in hiding and given the name of Finn from the clearness of his skin.

He learned science and poetry from the druid Finegas, who lived on the river Boyne. The druid had been unable to catch the salmon of knowledge until Finn became his pupil, and when he did succeed in catching it, he told Finn to watch it while it was cooking but not to partake of it. Finn, however, burned his fingers as he turned the spit and put one of them in his mouth. Seeing this, Finegas bade him eat the salmon and he became filled with the wisdom of all ages.

Afterward Finn took service with King Cormac, to whom he revealed his name and lineage. Cormac promised him the lead-ership of the Fianna if he succeeded in killing the fire-blowing demon that came yearly to set Tara in flames. Finn slew the demon and carried its head back to Tara. The Fianna were therefore ordered to swear allegiance to Finn as their captain. Under Finn the Fianna rose to great eminence that at length became tyrannical, and they were defeated at the battle of Bowra.

Finn's death is shrouded in mystery. According to popular tradition he and his great companions lie sleeping in an enchanted cave and will arise in the hour of their country's need, like Arthur, Barbarossa, and Charlemagne.