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Tara H.
Carnaun Seniors, Ireland

The Salmon of Knowledge

Fionn Mac Cumhail and "the Salmon of Knowledge".
By Tara H. 5th. Class

The day came when Fionn Mac Cumhail was a fully-grown man. He felt that he could do the thing he wanted to do all his life-become captain of the Fianna, as was his father before him. He would set out for Tara, where the High King dwelt. Somehow he would get the High King to name him captain of the Fianna! But first there was something he knew he needed. He was the swiftest of runners, the highest of leapers, and the best of swimmers. He was as strong as two men, feared nothing, and was skilled with every Kind of weapon. But he knew that he also needed wisdom.
So, he set out for the river Boyne, where there dwelt a famous wise man and a poet by the name of Finegas. Fionn found Finegas living in a little hut on the riverbank.
The young man bowed. "Master" said he "I will keep your house cleaned and swept, chop your firewood, cook your meals, do all else needed, if I may stay here and learn from you".
The old man smiled. "Stay" he invited. "What is your name?" Finn felt it was better to let the old man know he was Finn Mac Cumhail. He though that his old enemies, the men of Clan Morna, might somehow learn that he was here and come to kill him. He wasn't afraid of them, but he feared that old Finegas might be hurt if there was a battle.
"My name is Demna" he said.
From that time on, Finegas taught young Fionn many things. He introduced him to the magic of poetry and the charm of music. He showed him the making of riddles and the solving of them.
Every day Fionn's mind grew in knowledge and understanding. "Why do you stay beside this river, Master, when there are so many finer rivers in this land?" he asked one day. " In this river swims the fish that is known as the salmon of knowledge," Finegas told him.
"Who ever eats that will gain all the knowledge of the world! I stay hear because it has been foretold that some day I shall catch the salmon of knowledge." I hope and pray you will catch it while I am with you!" exclaimed Fionn. "Perhaps I shall," said Finegas, "Perhaps I shall."
Days, weeks and months rolled by.
Then one day, Finegas went fishing as often did. Suddenly, Fionn heard him call out. The young man ran to see what had. Happened. He found Finegas sitting with a basket in his lap. In the basket lay a large orange and gold fish. "I have caught it," said Finegas in a low, solemn voice. "I have caught the salmon of All Knowledge!"
Finn let out a shout and leaped for joy. He was delighted that his old teacher would now be able to gain all the knowledge of the world. "I shall cook it for you," he said.
As Finn cooked the Salmon of All Knowledge, he of how wonderful was this moment for his beloved teacher. When the fish was done, he placed it before Finegas. "Have you eaten any of it?" asked Finegas.
"No," replied Finn. "It is yours to eat. I did have a small taste. A blister formed while the fish was cooking and I pushed it down with my thumb. It gave me a burn, so I popped my thumb in my mouth to make it feel better. My, but it did taste good! You will know how good it is when you eat it." Finegas looked at Finn and smiled. "There are two things that I know to be true," said Finegas. "One is that I shall never eat the salmon of All Knowledge and the other is that your name is not Demna. Your name is Finn Mac Cumhail."
"How can you know that?" cried Finn, in great surprise. "It is foretold that I would catch the salmon of All Knowledge," said Finegas. "But it was also foretold that only a man named Finn Mac Cumhail would eat the salmon. Since only you and I are here to eat the fish, I know your name must be Finn Mac Cumhail. The fish is yours to eat."