The Salmon of Knowledge



In the river Boyne there was a magic fish called the Salmon of Knowledge. It was said that the first person to taste its flesh would be wiser than all other men. Finegas was a poet who lived near the River Boyne, where he read books and wrote poems. He was one of the wisest men in Ireland. Finegas had tried for seven years to catch the fish but he had no luck.

A young warrior named Fionn had come to live with Finegas. Fionn was unaware of the legend about the salmon of knowledge. When Fionn asked Finegas why he spend his days fishing, Finegas just smiled and gave no answer. Then one morning in springtime, Fionn heard a shout and a mighty splash. Finegas had caught a salmon. It was a beautiful fish and its body shone like silver. Finegas immediately knew he had caught the salmon of knowledge.

Finegas was tired after his struggle to catch the fish so he told Fionn to cook it. Finegas warned Fionn not to eat the fish, not even a mouthful. Fionn built a fire and cooked that salmon very carefully, but when he was turning it, the hot skin burned his thumb. He quickly put his thumb into his mouth to take away the pain.

When Fionn brought the fish to Finegas. The wise poet noticed there was something different about Fionn. There was a new wisdom in Fionn’s eyes. “Have you eaten any of the salmon?” Finegas asked. Fionn told Finegas he hadn’t, but then he remembered he had burnt his thumb and put it in his mouth. Finegas knew at once that Fionn now had the wisdom of the salmon of knowledge. Finegas was very sad, he knew he would never be the wisest man in Ireland, but he was happy for Fionn. Soon afterwards Fionn left Finegas. Fionn went on to become leader of the Fianna and the greatest warrior they had ever known.


Continue: Fionn and the Fianna