The Fenian cycle Most native prose of this period was concerned with the hero Finn and his war band fian. The Fenian stories never received such careful literary treatment as did those of the Ulster cycle , and the old form was soon abandoned for prose tales and ballads, which may be regarded as the beginnings of popular, as opposed to professional, literature in Irish. The metres represented a drastic simplification of the bardic technique, and a distinct change in theme occurred as this literature passed into the hands of the people. Other prose Stories popular with the fili steadily dropped out of favour. Most important of all, a flood of translations from Latin and English began.
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Best, Richard I. Bibliography of Irish Philology, I Dublin They have been told for hundreds of years and are part of Irish history. With stories of great giants, clever warriors.
Jealous queens, leprechauns, fairies and magical and mysticalmystical creatures, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy this adaptation. For easier uploading, I have excluded pictures. I extend my thanks to all my sources, known and unknown and all those who made possible the research. Adapted by D E Davis www. We can follow Grainne for example from grassy area to the house of the women and into the court.
We learn of wattle gates and of the arrangement of the hall. We also take a look at feats of bravery- perhaps those practiced for entertainment and or training at court- Diarmuid leaping on the tips of his spears for example. As you read this story listen as it demonstrates and describes the nature of Celtic society. This is the latest of the ancient cycles. It is a cumulative effort - a layer cake if you will, of all of the traditions which have crossed the island of Ireland from earliest times.
Can you pick out the layers? They are it seems all there at least in part as lenses which color the tale. Oisin Spoke, and what he said was: "What is the cause of this early rising of thine, O Finn?
The king of Erin chanced to be holding a gathering and a muster before them upon the plain of Tara, and the chiefs and the great nobles of his people were with him. A friendly welcome was given to Oisin and Diorruing, and the gathering was then put off until another day, for the king was certain that it was upon some pressing matter that those two had come to him.
Afterwards Oisin called the king of Erin to one side, and told him that it was to ask of him the marriage of his daughter for Finn Mac Cumaill that they themselves were then come. Cormac spoke, and what he said was: "There is not a son of a king or of a great prince, a hero a battle-champion in Erin, to whom my daughter has not given refuse of marriage, and it is on me Adapted www.
It was very important for isolated groups to link up with one another not only for safety and prevention of warfare but also for common assistance. Fosterage and hostage taking also helped in the sharing of technology and training. These social arrangements were lifelines linking delicate cultural outposts across the uninhabited lands Thereafter Oisin and Diorruing arrived again at Almu, where they found Finn and the Fian, and they told them their news from beginning to end.
Now as every thing wears away, so also did that space of time; and then Finn collected and assembled the seven battalions of the standing Fian, from every quarter where they were, and they came where Finn was, in Almu the great and broad of Leinster; and on the last day of that period of time they went forth in great bands, in troops, and in impetuous fierce impenetrable companies, and we are not told how they fared until they reached Tara.
Adapted www. The story has as one of its functions the preservation of the history of lineage and relationship- infact the entertainment value is perhaps simply coloring for what would be a dull and boring recitation of these important facts. The same is true of place names. The stories are very careful to name places and landmarks. Another important function is the preservation of maps.
For an oral society with no written maps that we know of the common reference would the tale which would link places, names and geography together. Today many of these place names are still attached to the land. There sat there a druid and a skillful man of knowledge of the people of Finn before Grainne the daughter of Cormac; that is, Daire Duanach Mac Morna; and it was not long before there arose gentle talking and mutual discourse between himself and Grainne. Then Daire Duanach mac Morna arose and stood before Grainne, and sang her the songs and the verses and the sweet poems of her fathers and of her ancestors;and then Grainne spoke and asked the druid, "What is the reason where fore Finn is come to this place tonight?
This is often very theatrical and gives a hint at some form of production where the characters are presented. Again here is an opportunity for the author to include the all important social information of lineage and the history and deeds of the characters.
From these descriptions it is possible to learn of the professions represented at court- druids, warriors The handmaid brought the goblet, and Grainne filled the goblet forthwith, and it contained the drink of nine times nine men. Grainne said, "Take the goblet to Finn first, and bid him drink a draught out of it, and disclose to him that it is I that sent it to him. Finn took the goblet, and no sooner had he drunk a draught out of it than there fell upon him a stupor of sleep and of deep slumber.
Cormac took the draught and the same sleep fell upon him, and Eitche, the wife of Cormac, took the goblet and drank a draught out of it, and the same sleep fell upon her as upon all the others.
Then Grainne called the attendant handmaid to her, and said to her: "Take this goblet to Cairbre Liffecair and tell him to drink a draught out of it, and give the goblet to those sons of king by him" The handmaid took the goblet to Cairbre, and he was not well able to give it to him that was next to him, before a stupor of sleep and of deep slumber fell upon him too, and each one that took the goblet, one after another, fell into a stupor of sleep and of deep slumber. When Grainne saw that they were in a state of drunkenness and of trance, she rose fairly and softly from the seat on which she was, and spoke to Oisin, and what she said was: "I marvel at Finn mac Cumaill that he should seek such a wife as I , for it were fitter for him to give me my own equal to marry than a man older than my father.
In an oral society where there were no written facts that which was said about you was infact the highest fact. Therefore it is not surprising that taboo and satire were of such great importance- again these stories helped the Fili classes remember - without being too boring and statistical about it - who was placed under what ban or taboo or satire by whom when. It happened that the game was going against the son of Lugaid, and thou didst rise and stand, and tookest his hurly-stick from the next man to thee, and didst throw him to the ground and to the earth, and thou wentest into the game, and didst with the goal three times upon Caribre and upon the warriors of Tara.
I was at that time in my bower of the clear view, of the blue windows of glass, gazing upon thee; and I turned the light of mine eyes and of my sight upon thee that day , and I never gave that love to any other man from that time to this, and will not for ever. This game comes up frequently in ancient Irish tales and is still played today. Players use a hurling stick almost like a hockey stick to hit a hard wooden ball across a field and into a hole under the far goal.
It is a very fast and rough game-the game was associated with boys training to be warriors and was instrumental in the settling of disputes "It is a wonder that though shouldest give me that love instead of Finn," said Diarmuid, "seeing that there is not in Erin a man that is fonder of a woman than he; and knowest thou, O Grainne, on the night that Finn is in Tara that he it is that has the keys of Tara, and that so we cannot leave the stronghold?
After that Diarmuid arose and stood, and stretched forth his active warrior hand over his broad weapons, and took leave and farewell of Oisin and of the chiefs of the Fian; and not bigger is a smooth-crimson whortleberry than was each tear that Diarmuid shed from his eyes at parting with his people. Diarmuid went to the top of the stronghold, and put the shafts of his two javelins under him, and rose with an airy, very light, exceeding high, birdlike leap, until he attained the breadth of his two soles of the beautiful grass- green earth on the plain without, and Grainne met him.
Then Diarmuid spoke, and what he said was:" I believe, O Grainne, that this is an evil course upon which thou art come; for it were better for thee to have Finn mac Cumaill for a lover than myself, seeing that I know not what nook or corner, or Adapted www.
It is suggested by scholars that along with the concepts of romantic love advanced in this cycle the use of these natural traits indicates the development of the literature from a dry officia mechanism for recording facts to the impressionistic creativity which we see here. Many believe that this is an effect of Irish monasticism which has provided written records which have liberated the authors to provide more color and human interest to their accounts which are no longer valued only for their informational content "It is certain that I will not go back," said Grainne, " and that I will not part from thee until death part me from thee.
And Diarmuid spoke to Grainne, and said: " it is all the easier for Finn to follow our track, O Grainne, that we have the horses. It is not told how they fared until they arrived at Doire Da Both, in the midst of Clan Ricard; and Diarmuid cut down the grove around him, and made to it seven doors of wattles, and he settled a bed of soft rushes and of the tops of the birch under Grainne in the very midst of that wood.
Note the wattle construction technique and the use of rushes- one can also see here a description which would serve as instruction for stage setting. The scene is described so as to almost refer to a stage-it is very set graphic- having doors open and characters appear is very visually dramatic As for Finn mac Cumaill, I will tell his tidings clearly. All that were in Tara rose at early morn on the morrow, and they found Diarmuid and Grainne wanting from among them and a burning jealousy and rage seized upon Finn.
He found his trackers before him on the plain, that is the Clan Neamuin, and he bade them follow Diarmuid and Grainne. Then they carried the track as far as Beul Atha Luain, and Finn and the Fian of Erin followed them; but they could not follow the track over across the ford so that Finn pledged his word that if they followed not the track out speedily, he would hang them on either side of the ford.
Then the Clan Neamuin went up to the stream, and found a horse on either side of the stream; and they went a mile with the stream westward, and found the track by the side of the province of Connacht, and Finn and the Fian of Erin followed them. Then spoke Finn, and what he said was.
And look where Bran is, that is, the hound of Finn mac Cumail, that we may send him to him, for Finn himself is not dearer to him than Diarmuid is; and O Oscar, tell Bran to go with a warning to Diarmuid, who is in Doire Da Both" and Oscar told that to Bran. Then Oisin the son of Finn spoke and said: "We are in danger lest Bran have not gotten opportunity to go to Diarmuid, and we must needs give him some other warning; and look for Feargoir the henchman of Cailte.
Now Feargoir was so, that every shout he gave used to be heard in the three nearest districts to him. Then they made him give three shouts, in order that Diarmuid might hear him. Diarmuid heard Feargoir, and awoke Grainne out of her sleep, and what he said was: "I hear the henchman of Cailte mac Ronain, and it is with Cailte he is, and it is with Finn that Cailte is, and this is a warning they are sending me.
Here we are introduced to Angus. Note his other worldly powers- he seems in a disticnct dimension from that of most of the characters- perhaps from another layer of the evolution of the tales.
Upon hearing the warning of the hounds Grainne said: "Take that warning," said Grainne. As for Finn, I will tell his tidings clearly. He did not abandon the chase until he reached Doire Da Both, and he sent the tribe of Emain to search out the wood, and they saw Diarmuid and a woman by him.
They returned back again where were Finn and the Fian of Erin, and Finn asked of them whether Diarmuid or Grainne were in the wood. And with which of us, O Diarmuid, is the truth, with myself or with Oscar? Thereupon Diarmuid rose up and gave Grainne three kisses in the presence of Finn and of the fian, so that a burning of jealousy and rage seized Finn upon seeing that, and he said that Diarmuid should give his head for those kisses.
After Angus and Grainne had departed from Diarmuid he arose as a straight pillar and stood upright, and girded his arms and his armor and his various sharp weapons about him. After that he drew near to one of the seven wattled doors that there were in the enclosure and asked who was at it. Diarmuid having heard hat arose with an airy, high, exceeding light bound, by the shafts of his javelins and by the staves of his spears, and went a great way out beyond Finn and beyond his people without their knowledge or perception.
He looked back upon them and proclaimed to them that he had Adapted www. Then when he saw that they followed him not, he turned back where he had seen Angus and Grainne departing out of the wood, and he followed them by their track, holding a straight course, until he reached Ros Da Soileach.
He found Angus and Grainne there in a warm well-lighted hut, and a great wide-flaming fire kindled before them, with half a wild boar upon spits. Diarmuid greeted them, and the very life of Grainne all but fled out through her mouth with joy at meeting Diarmuid.
Diarmuid told them his tidings from the beginning to end; and they ate their meal that night, and Diarmuid and Grainne went to sleep together until the day came with its full light on the morrow.
And in whatever place thou shalt cook thy meal, there eat it not; and in whatever place thou shalt eat, there sleep not; and in whatever place thou shalt sleep, there rise not on the morrow. Diarmuid and Grainne journeyed with the Shannon on their right hand westward until they reached Garb Alba of the Fian, which is now called Leaman; and Diarmuid killed a salmon on the bank of the Leaman, and put it on a spit to broil.
Then he himself and Grainne went over across the stream to eat it, as Angus had told them; and they went thence westward to sleep. Diarmuid and Grainne rose early on the morrow, and journeyed straight westward until they reached the marshy moor of Finnliath, and they met a youth upon the moor, and the feature and form of that youth were good, but he had not fitting arms nor armor. Then Diarmuid greeted that youth, and asked tidings of him. Then he nevertheless took Diarmuid and Grainne upon his back and bore them over across the stream.
They journeyed forth westward until they reached the Beith, and when they had reached the stream Muadan did likewise with them, and they went into a cave of the earth at the side of Currach Cinn Admuid, over Tonn Toime; and Muadan dressed a bed of soft rushes and of birch-tops for Diarmuid and Grainne in the further part of that cave.
He himself went into the next wood to him and plucked in it a straight long rod of a quicken tree; and he put a hair and a hook upon the rod, and put a holly Adapted www.
He put on a second berry, and caught a second fish; and he put up a third berry, and caught a third fish.
He then put the hook and the hair under his girdle, and the rod into the earth, and took his three fish with him to where Diarmuid and Grainne were, and put the fish upon spits. When they were broiled Muadan said: "I give the dividing of these fish to thee, Diarmuid. They ate their meal that night, and Diarmuid and Graine went to sleep in the further part of the cave, and Muadan kept watch and ward for them until the day arose with its full light on the morrow.
Diarmuid arose early, and made Grainne sit up; and told her to keep watch for Muadan, and that he himself would go to walk the country.
The Fenian Cycle
Birth of Finn Although Muirenn lived quite a distance away from the battlefield, she knew that her husband Cumhaill was killed. Her power as Danann allowed her to see the battle in her vision. She did not waste her time in grief, for she knew that she and her unborn child were in immediate dangers. With two old nurses, Muirenn fled and hid into a large, densely wooded forest around the hills, known as Sliab Bladma Slieve Bloom.
Using a magic spear that rendered him immune to the music, Fionn killed the phantom. As a reward, Fionn was made the leader of the Fianna, replacing Goll, who had to swear fealty to him. They were married. Some while later, Fionn went out to repulse some invaders and Sadhbh stayed in the Dun. Fer Doirich impersonated Fionn, tempting Sadhbh out of the Dun, whereupon she immediately became a fawn again. Fionn and Diarmuid[ edit ] One of the most famous stories of the cycle.