Fionn Mac Cumhaill (10)

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  • Teideal (Title): Fionn Mac Cumhaill (10).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 850117.
  • 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): James Cowdery.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): between 1979 and 1981.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

The Burial of Fionn Mac Cumhaill

Jim Cowdery reminds Joe of a story about Fionn Mac Cumhaill, whose burial place lies on the border between County Roscommon and County Galway. Fionn is buried in a cave that is open only once every two or three hundred years. One day, about two hundred years ago, a man heading home from work saw the cave, and went in to investigate. There he saw a big giant of a man lying there, with a sword stuck through him. On the sword was written: ‘Remove the sword, and Ireland will be free.’ He draws the sword part of the way out of the giant’s body, but when the corpse began to move his head, the man becomes afraid, and pushes the sword back again. The giant – Fionn Mac Cumhaill – then addresses the man, saying that if he had only withdrawn the sword, he would have risen up and hurled England into the sea, freeing Ireland. Now it will be a long time before the cave is open again, and Ireland will remain under English domination all that time.


This story has international cognates; see AT 766 ‘The Magic Sleep.’ Parallels are to be found with the story of ‘Holger the Dane’ and also with Arthurian legends.