Fionn Mac Cumhaill (6)

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  • Teideal (Title): Fionn Mac Cumhaill (6).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 850114.
  • 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 importance of storytelling before radio and television

This segment largely consists of Joe explaining to Jim Cowdery how storytelling was an important element in the social life of Conamara in the days before radio and television, and how people would gather at his father’s house on a winter’s evening to listen to stories and songs. Some of the stories could stretch over nights and weeks before they would come to an end… not unlike episodic radio and television drama!

Fionn Mac Cumhail Plays a Game of Cards

As an example of such a story, Joe tells a short fragment of a long tale about how Fionn Mac Cumhaill was enticed into a game of cards by an old woman with magic powers, and when Fionn lost the card-game, he was then put under an enchantment (faoi gheasa) to do anything the old woman wanted him to do.

A most interesting part of this segment is Joe’s description of the scene in the house while the story is being told: how quiet everyone was and how Joe used to creep out of his bed and listen at the top of the stairs.


A manuscript in Cnuasach Béaloideas Éireann, University College Dublin, contains a version of this story in Irish, Grabaire Beag Fhinn Mhac Cumhaill, that Joe Heaney himself contributed to the Collection in the 1930s.