Fionn Mac Cumhaill (9)

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  • Teideal (Title): Fionn Mac Cumhaill (9).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 903909.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): story.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Kenneth Goldstein.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): unavailable.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Department of Folklore and Folklife, University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): day Class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Raven

One snowy day when he is out hunting, Fionn kills a raven. Marvelling at the sight, he puts himself under an obligation (faoi gheasa) not to rest until he finds a woman with hair as black as the raven’s wing, skin as white as the snow, and a cheek the colour of the blood of the raven.

Having learned that the only woman meeting these requirements is the daughter of a fearsome king who lives in a fortress a long way off, he sets forth on his quest. Along the way he encounters a funeral, and assists in paying the debts of the dead person, allowing him to be buried. He then meets a series of men with useful supernatural gifts, all of whom agree to accompany Fionn on his journey in return for the promise of a house and land if they are successful. Eventually they reach the king’s fortress; and having gained admission with some difficulty, the king agrees to set Fionn a set of tasks in return for his daughter’s hand – the punishment for failure being death. With the help of his companions, Fionn at last prevails, and he gets to marry the daughter.

On their way home, one of his companions reveals to Fionn that he will not be needing the promised house and land, as he is the man whose debts Fionn paid the day of the funeral, and that the other men are his friends. The story thus has a Christian moral.


The motif of the raven’s blood in the snow also appears in the stories of Diarmaid and Gráinne and Deirdre and the Sons of Uisne.