Irish Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of Ireland

FIONN MAC CUMHAILL

Irish Hero legendary mortal

Also known as Finn mac Cumail, Finn McCool, Finn MacCoul, Finn MacCooill, Finn MacCool, Finn mac Cool

Legendary Hero of the Fenians

A highly popular hero with a thirst for combat, there are so many stories about the famous warrior that his legends must have earned him maximum possible Blarney points. As one of the coolest figures of Irish mythology, it’s no wonder some people call him Finn McCool.

The heroic Fionn mac Cumhaill delights in cross-country running into strange situations with dogged persistence.

He once burnt his thumb trying to turn the wise fish the Salmon of Knowledge on a makeshift spit. When he sucked the resulting blister a great splurge of knowledge was released into his head. But his digestive system couldn’t cope and all the knowledge passed onto his son Oisín.

With a salmon that smart, it’s more than likely it escaped back into the river and burning Finn with a fin was a ruse to put this into effect.

Fionn mac Cumhaill is well known for creating the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, an astounding rock formation of hexagonal columns along the coast of County Antrim. Accordig to the legend he was a bit of a giant at the time.

The story goes that one day the Scottish giant Benandonner, spotted him striding along the beach far away in Ireland. Seeing he had a rival, he challenged him to a fight. Challenge accepted! After a bit of shouting back and forth across the ocean, terms were arranged. But wait, Scotland was far away across the sea and there was precious little international transport in those days. Instead, Fionn mac Cumhaill got his hands dirty and constructed a vast stepping-stone road stretching all the way across the North Channel to Scotland.

That was the most heroic bit of the story — as soon as Fionn saw the looming figure of Benandonner, he realized his rival had clearly been tucking into his fortified porridge. The Scottish giant was massive in all the wrong places and utterly formidable.

Unnerved, Fionn mac Cumhaill quickly disguised himself as a giant baby. When Benandonner arrived and saw this strapping infant, he assumed it was Fionn’s baby son. Well, with a baby that size, he wasn’t going to hang around to meet the dad.

In a panic, Benandonner ran straight back to Scotland, demolishing the road as he went — just in case any gigantic daddies decided to follow him. That’s why the Giant’s Causeway stops where it does, just at the edge of the North Channel. You can go and visit if you like. The giant stepping stones are still there. That proves the story is true.

Fionn mac Cumhaill Facts and Figures

Name: Fionn mac Cumhaill
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: Finn mac Cumail, Finn McCool, Finn MacCoul, Finn MacCooill, Finn MacCool, Finn mac Cool

Gender: Male
Type: legendary mortal
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Heroics
Area of expertise: Hero

Good/Evil Rating: GOOD, quite approachable
Popularity index: 1578

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Article last revised on May 23, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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