The Salmon of Knowledge
Long ago when Fionn mac Cumhaill, the great leader of the Fianna of Ireland, was still a young boy he was sent to live with a very wise man named Finnegas. Finnegas was a poet who lived on the banks of the river Boyne and was renowned throughout Ireland for his vast knowledge.
As well as being renowned for his skills in composing and reciting poetry Finnegas knew more about the ways of the world, including the secrets of the birds and animals and plants and stars, than any other man in Ireland.
It was because of his vast knowledge that Fionn had been sent to learn from Finnegas. Fionn loved to listen to the old man’s wonderful stories and his many words of wisdom which he too, in time, would learn to recite. In exchange for the wisdom Finnegas would pass on to him Fionn would help about the house, cooking, cleaning and fishing for the old man.
However, despite Finnegas’ vast knowledge, he did not know everything and there were times when Fionn’s endless curiosity got the better of him, and he was left unable to answer the young boy’s questions.
‘Is there a way to know everything?’ Fionn asked him.
This was a question that Finnegas had asked once too and was the very reason why he now lived next to the river Boyne. It had been told by the druids of old that living in a still, dark pool in the shade of the overhanging hazel trees was the Salmon of Knowledge. It was as result of eating the nuts of these magical hazel trees that the Salmon had acquired all the knowledge of the world. And so it was that, according to prophecy, the one who would eat the Salmon would gain the knowledge for themselves. Finnegas had been living on the edge of the river for several years now, attempting to catch the Salmon and gain such wisdom.
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