Transcript – Informant speaking
Mother: “That was kind of one of the stories from Irish folklore. There were a lot about Finn MacCool, his dad. (reference previous story from informant) I just know one where there was supposed to be the salmon of knowledge, em and basically if you ate the salmon, you were supposed to have all the knowledge in the world. So it was claimed that Finn MacCool had managed to, had been a student of this… kind of sage, this storyteller who was very knowledgeable. And the storyteller was getting worried ’cause he’d given Finn MacCool pretty much all the information he knew. But it was supposed to be this Salmon, if you could catch the salmon and cook this salmon, whoever ate the salmon would have all the knowledge in the world. So the sage went out and managed to catch the salmon. But he asked Finn McCool to cook it for him, and, but not too eat it and not to do anything to it, just to cook it for him. And so apparently the story was that Finn MacCool, when he was cooking it, em, burned his finger and put his finger in the mouth and that was enough to give him all the knowledge of the salmon rather than the sage that he cooked the salmon for.”
During a conversation between me and my parents about Irish folklore, my mother told me this story. It was directly after a different story (which has also been posted under the title of “Tír Nan Óg”) that was about Finn MacCool’s son. Finn MacCool, while a seemingly ridiculous name, holds a vast amount of importance in the culture. I barely ever hear anything about him, but my parents both grew up with many stories about him. In a way, he’s one of the biggest staples in Irish folk literature.
This story was provided during a facetime with my folks. The speaker has a very thick Northern Irish accent. It should also be noted that in a
Scottish version, Finn is not living there as a pupil but just as a boy who had been forced out of his form. Link to this version below:
This tale is interesting. While it’s still tragic (like the Tír Nan Óg tale) it’s only tragic for the sage, which means for us we likely respond to it by laughing. But like in the previous story, we do see that even though this tale had a more lighthearted ending, all of the characters were still largely at the mercy of fate and luck. In truth, MacCool eating the salmon was just as much of a happy accident as his son falling off his horse was. I found that very interesting. And while this might be a bit of a stereotypical conclusion, it does seem to point to a worldview very invested in luck.