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King of the Connacht fairies with residence at Cnoc Mheada [Knockmagha], west of Tuam, Co. Galway. Although fond of mortal women, he is usually cited with his wife Úna (sometimes Nuala). Originally one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, he settles at Cnoc Mheadha when his kind are driven underground by the Milesians. The popularity of his stories in oral tradition led storytellers to think of Finnbheara as the king of all Irish fairies, not just of Connacht, and also as king of the dead. In one of the best-known stories, Finnbheara steals the most beautiful woman in Ireland, Eithne (4) or Eithne the Bride, and keeps her with him, Persephone-like, for a year. He brings good crops to people in his region but his absence brings poor crops. He rewards a smith who is not afraid to shoe his three-legged horse. On one occasion he cures a sick woman, accepts food from her in recompense, but refuses salt. Lady Wilde collected many stories of Finnbheara in her Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland (London, 1887). T. H. Nally's verse pantomime Finn Varra Maa (Dublin, 1917) conflates Finnbheara with Fionn mac Cumhaill (here ‘Finn MacCool’) and makes him the Irish Santa Claus. W. B. Yeats cites him often, usually as Finvara, notably in the dramas, The Land of Heart's Desire (1894) and The Dreaming of the Bones (1919). Although his name is occasionally anglicized as Finbar, he should be distinguished from Finnbarr. Folk motifs: F109; F160.0.2; F167.12; F184; F252.1.

Subjects: Religion.

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