In Irish mythology, Finn macCool was the great warrior hero of his people known as the Fianna. He defended Ireland against its many enemies and also had the power to see into the future.
Long, long ago in ancient Ireland lived a young man named Demhne. Demhne was the son of a warrior and his druid wife. His father had long since been killed in battle and his father’s friends had taught him the art of hunting and war.
But he still had to learn some wisdom and magic. So he approached a poet druid by the name of Fionn, the Seer and began to study under him. Now, druids were wise men and scholars, much like our Indian rishis.
The Seer had been, for seven years, trying to catch a salmon which lived in the River Boyne. It was said that whoever could catch the Salmon of Knowledge and eat it would gain all the wisdom in the world. The magical salmon had eaten some nuts from the Tree of Knowledge and thereby received all the wisdom. Finally one lucky day after he took in young Demhne as his disciple, the Seer managed to catch the elusive salmon.
Taking it home, he summoned Demhne. “Cook this for me but make sure you do not eat any. In return I shall teach you poetry,” he told the young man.
Demhne followed his teacher’s instructions and began to cook the salmon. While cooking, he checked to see if the salmon was cooked by placing his thumb on the side of the fish. Touching the hot salmon burned his thumb and instinctively, he put his stinging thumb into his mouth. Anyone in his place would have done the same. But when he put his thumb in his mouth he swallowed a bit of the salmon’s skin.
When Demhne served the fish to the druid, the Seer asked him if he had eaten any of it. “No I did not eat it Sir, as you forbade me to. But to tell you the honest truth, I did taste the salmon as I burnt my thumb touching it and put it in my mouth to soothe the pain.”
Demhne was an honest lad. He expected the Druid to be angry but Fionn smiled. “My dear boy, you were destined to eat that salmon. Go on now and eat the whole thing. From now on, you’ll be known as Finn and all the wisdom of the world is yours! Of course, now there is no need for any more lessons, poetry or otherwise...”
And that was how Finn who ate the salmon was filled with all the wisdom of the world. In addition he found that he had become gifted with the power to see the future too.
From then on, any time he needed to know something, all he had to do was put his thumb in his mouth!
Finn grew up to become a strong, brave athlete, warrior and hunter possessing the knowledge of the entire world. In time he became the leader of the Fianna, the warrior clan. He helped his people by cutting mountain passes with his powerful sword and slaying serpents. He defended Ireland against all those who tried to invade the country, some of them even supernatural creatures from the Other World.
It is said that the great warrior Finn never died and lies asleep in a cave below Dublin along with the rest of his Fianna.
And when his great horn Dord Fainn is sounded three times, they will arise and come to defend Ireland in its hour of need, brave and strong forever as before.