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Fíthel


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Finn MacCool

Fianna

Geoffrey Keating (c. 1580—1644) Roman Catholic priest and historian

 

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[Ir., calf (?); sprite, goblin (?)].

Celebrated judge at the court of Cormac mac Airt in early Irish tradition, known for his infallible decisions. He may be a brother of Fionn mac Cumhaill who left the Fianna to join Cormac, or Fíthel the judge may have become confused with Fionn's brother of the same name. Fíthel as judge arbitrated disputes of the Fianna in general as well as those between Fionn and Cormac. Several collections of wise maxims attributed to him survive; see R. M. Smith, below. The 17th-century historian Geoffrey Keating relates the story of the dying Fíthel giving advice to his son: (a) to avoid raising a king's child; (b) to keep dire secrets from his wife; (c) never to promote the son of a slave to higher station; (d) never to make his sister the trustee of his wealth. Fíthel's son did just the opposite, which jeopardized the son of Cormac, whom he was rearing. When extricated from his troubles, Fíthel's son pleaded that he was only testing his father's advice, which he had proved sound. See R. M. Smith, ‘The Senbriatha Fithail’, Revue Celtique, 45 (1928), 1–92; with addenda, 46 (1929), 268–71; 47 (1930), 30–8; 48 (1931), 325–31. Pádraig Ua Duinnín [Patrick S. Dinneen] based his Irish-language drama Comhairle Fithil (Dublin, 1909) upon Fíthel; translated as Fitheal's Counsels (Dublin, 1909).

(a) to avoid raising a king's child; (b) to keep dire secrets from his wife; (c) never to promote the son of a slave to higher station; (d) never to make his sister the trustee of his wealth. Fíthel's son did just the opposite, which jeopardized the son of Cormac, whom he was rearing. When extricated from his troubles, Fíthel's son pleaded that he was only testing his father's advice, which he had proved sound.

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