The Salmon of Knowledge

When chieftain’s son told his father of mysterious boy who had played with them, leader named him Finn, which means ‘fair-haired’. The chieftain’s son was jealous of Finn’s prowess, and next day when he returned to play, he turned all other boys against him, and chased him out of clearing. Finn’s carers knew that his secret identity would be revealed and he would only be safe if he left forest and travelled south to hide once again from Clan Morna.

Finn traveled until he reached Kerry and sought refuge with King of Bantry, but when King saw handsome young traveler, he recognised him immediately as Cumhaill’s son. The King told him to leave, as he could not protect him, and once more, Finn traveled until he settled with his uncle. Here, he was protected and told stories of his father great warrior, and of Fianna.

Finn soon made decision to take back his birthright as leader of Fianna by fighting Mac Morna, but he knew first he must become greatest hunter and wisest poet. Finn went to study with Finnegas, wisest man in Ireland, who lived by a rock pool on River Boyne. Finnegas had been there, patiently looking for Salmon of Knowledge for seven years. The red speckled fish lived in these waters, and was said to hold all secrets of world, and he who ate him would absorb all this knowledge.

As Finn sat with Finnegas, old man finally caught salmon he had been waiting for. Finnegas told Finn to clean and cook fish, but warned young man not to taste it, as Finnegas knew that first one to taste salmon would be one to get its Knowledge. As Finn was cooking fish, he burnt his thumb and immediately raised it to his mouth to ease pain. When he brought salmon to Finnegas, he immediately saw a difference in his pupil’s face. “Did you eat salmon?,” asked Finnegas. Finn told truth, and said that he had not eaten salmon, but had burnt his thumb and put it to his mouth. Finnegas knew that Finn had absorbed eternal Knowledge, and that he was to become a great man.

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