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Salmon of Knowledge

Nature and magic are common themes in Irish mythology and the Salmon of Knowledge is the perfect example of such a tale. A story of wisdom, chance and humility, the story has been passed down through the ages to become one of the best loved Irish myths.

Long ago a great master and poet named Fineagas set up home by the river Boyne in the hopes of one day catching The Salmon of Knowledge - a fish with magical powers. It was foreseen by ancient druids that whoever consumed the salmon of knowledge would possess its wisdom, a wisdom that was gained when the salmon ate nine magical hazelnuts that fell from nine hazelnut trees into the Well of Wisdom. Many had tried and failed to catch the fish but Fineagas' determination was unwavering.

One day a young boy named Fionn MacCumhail was sent to live with Fineagas to become his pupil, in return Fionn carried out chores for him. Fineagas enjoyed the company of Fionn and the two became close.

Many months had passed and one day as Fineagas was fishing on the bank he caught a glimpse of the magical fish. It was undeniable that it was the Salmon of Knowledge with it's glistening golden scales. Fineagas remembered not to look into the salmons golden eyes as they had the power to put him fast asleep, but without warning the great fish leapt out of the water and surely caught the gaze of Fineagas. Fineagas fell back into a deep sleep. Fionn rushed over and awoke his master before the fish escaped. When he was awoken Fineagas quickly covered his eyes with cloth and with Fionn by his side he carried on fishing. As the hours passed Fineagas' efforts paid off and he had caught the magical fish!

Worn out and sleepy Fineagas instructed Fionn to cook the fish while he went to get some much-needed sleep but, he had warned him not to eat the fish. Fionn obeyed his masters orders and began to cook the fish. As the fish cooked, a blister began to from on the skin of the fish. Fionn bust the forming blister and burned his finger. Quickly he placed his finger inside his mouth to ease the burn.

When Fineagas had returned, he had noticed that Fionns eyes possessed a wisdom in them that he had never seen before. "Did you eat any of the Salmon Fionn?" he asked. Fionn replied that he did not. "Have you tasted the fish?" he asked. To Fionns horror it occurred to him that he had been burned by the fish. He explained to Fineagas what had happened. Finegas had realized that Fionn now possessed the wisdom of the salmon that he had so longed for.

Despite his sadness Fineagas was pleased that Fionn had been the one to receive the salmon's knowledge. Fionn grew up to be a great warrior possessing both knowledge from the salmon and the humility of his master.

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