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Macgnímartha Finn


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Irish titles for the medieval Fenian narrative known in English as The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn or The Youthful Exploits of Fionn. Incomplete texts evince influences from comparable stories of the boyhood of Cúchulainn. After being reared in hiding, the youthful Fionn, then called Demne, goes through a series of adventures to prepare him for a career as a great chief. These include his winning of the salmon of wisdom, his earning of his name when he is called Fionn [fair-haired one] during an athletic contest, and the attainment of his sword, his banner, and his aegis. Most mysteriously, he also acquires the crane bag [corrbolg], implicitly the beginnings of Irish writing. Capping his adventures, he overcomes Goll mac Morna to become unchallenged chief of the Fianna, and then goes to Tara to slay Aillén the burner.

See Kuno Meyer, ‘Boyish Exploits of Finn’, Ériu, 1 (1904), 180–90.See also Joseph Falaky Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw (Berkeley, Calif., 1985).James Stephens adapts many of Fionn's boyhood adventures in his Irish Fairy Tales (London, 1920).

Subjects: Religion.


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