Finn, also known as Finn MacCumhail or Finn MacCool, is the hero of a series of Irish legends known as the Fionn (or Fenian) Cycle. Finn was the son of Cumhail, who led a band of warriors called the Fianna. Members of this group were chosen for their bravery and strength and took an oath to fight for the king and defend Ireland from attack. In time, Finn became the leader of the Fianna and was the greatest warrior of all.

As a boy, Finn became the pupil of a druid, a Celtic priest. The druid had been told that he would gain all the world's knowledge if he caught and ate a certain salmon. He caught the fish and instructed Finn to cook but not to eat it. While preparing the fish, Finn touched it and burned his thumb. He sucked the thumb to ease the pain and received the knowledge that was meant for the druid.

Finn later traveled to Tara, the court of the Irish king, Cormac MacArt. Every year a demon came and destroyed Tara. Finn managed to kill the demon and save the hall. As a reward, the king named Finn the leader of the Fianna. Under his leadership, the Fianna performed many amazing deeds, such as traveling to the underworld and defeating supernatural enemies. Always a select group, the Fianna became even more exclusive when Finn invented tests of strength and courage for all those who wanted to join.

underworld land of the dead

supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous

Several legends concern Finn's death. However, some stories say he is not dead at all, just sleeping in a cave or a hollow tree, and that he will awaken when Ireland once again needs his help.

See also Celtic Mythology ; Druids .

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