Fionn mac Cumhaill

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Fionn mac Cumhaill Irish pronunciation: [ˈfʲin̪ˠ mˠakˠ ˈkuːw̃əlːʲ] (Northern), [ˈfʲiːn̪ˠ mˠakˠ ˈkuːw̃əlʲ] (Western), [ˈfʲuːn̪ˠ mˠakˠ ˈkuːlʲ] (Southern), anglicised /ˈfɪn mə ˈkuːl/ (in early texts Finn or Find mac Cumail or mac Umaill, anglicised to Finn McCool in the Romantic Period of the 19th century) was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The stories of Fionn and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian cycle or Fiannaidheacht, much of it purported to be narrated by Fionn's son, the poet Oisín.

Fionn or Finn is actually a nickname meaning "fair" (in reference to hair and/or skin colour), "white", or "bright". His childhood name was Deimne [dʲeβ̃nʲi] (Modern Irish [dʲeβʲɨnʲɨ] (Southern [dʲəinʲɨ]) "Sureness, Certainty", and several legends tell how he gained the nickname when his hair turned prematurely white. The name "Fionn" is related to the Welsh name Gwyn, as in the mythological figure Gwyn ap Nudd, and to the continental/Roman British Celtic Vindos, also a 'nickname' for a god such as Belenos.

The 19th century Irish revolutionary organisation known as the Fenian Brotherhood took its name from these legends. The Scottish name Fingal comes from a retelling of these legends in epic form by the 18th century poet James Macpherson.

Contents

Legend

Birth

Most of Fionn's early adventures are recounted in the narrative The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn. He was the son of Cumhall – leader of the Fianna – and Muirne, daughter of the druid Tadg mac Nuadat who lived on the hill of Almu in County Kildare. Cumhall abducted Muirne after her father refused him her hand, so Tadg appealed to the High King, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who outlawed him. The Battle of Cnucha was fought between Conn and Cumhall, and Cumhall was killed by Goll mac Morna, who took over leadership of the Fianna.

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