Finn MacCoul and The Salmon of Knowledge
In days gone by, Cormac, who was the son of Art, ruled Ireland. He was an hospitable prince and his house was always open. In the ancient version of keeping up with the Jones', his expenses outweighed both his money and credit. He was at his wit's end on how to keep up the charade, so he set down a plan to go to war with one of his neighbors. The Grand Monarch of Versailles and the Celestial Sovereign of Ashantee had both wanted to acquire the same land, so why not Cormac? Fiachadh Muilliathan, King of Munster, had vast pasture lands along the banks of the River Suir, which went by the name of the Golden Vein. Cormac decided that he would go to war to take the land and he would never be in debt again. However, Fiachadh of Munster was a wise King and he valued that land as precious; and his band of Men of Ormond and Desmond, were also great warriors.

After his plan was dashed, Cormac sought advice from a Druid, who was a Caledonian. He would do just about anything for money, so he told Cormac about one of the rivers that ran under ground in western Ireland, now called Mayo; and not far from the lofty mountain, now named Croagh Patrick. He said that there was a salmon, which if caught and eaten, would give the eater such wisdom, prowess, and good fortune that he would have fame and prosperity forever.

Cormac lost no time in setting out on his fishing excursion into Connaught. When he came to the banks of the river, he followed its course through a fertile valley, finally coming to where the turbulent river fell into a cavern, to be seen no more. Close to the opening of the cavern there was a dark, deep pool that whirled about in rapid eddies. Amidst the many fish, was where the salmon of knowledge lived.

Cormac and his Caledonian advisor fished day after day, and many a fine fish they caught and ate. Cormac became so tired of fish, and it repulsed him so much, that he began to crave the fat mutton of the pastures of Tara. He could not bring himself to taste of every fish taken from the pool. Then he and his advisor decided to be selective and threw back the ones that were not as plump. They still had no luck.

One evening a little fish was caught that was thin and ugly with a hooked snout, such as a poacher would steal on a dark night. Who would suppose that anyone who had his choice would think of eating a spent salmon. The fish was thrown on the bank, leaving it to wriggle back into the river. Just as it was about to jump into the stream, a man who was looking on, caught it by the gills. He thought to himself that, if this fish was not good enough for the King's taste, it I was fine for him to eat. He made a fire and started to broil his fish.

Now, who was this man? It was no other than Finn MacCoul, the son of Art, and grandson of Trein the Big. He had been sent to these shores of the Western Sea, in order to save him from the tribe of Morni, who wanted to kill him. He lived here along this river and may have died, except for the circumstances of this ugly fish tossed aside by King Cormac. He broiled his fish until a blister arose by the heat of the fire. Not wanting his salmon to dry up with juices leaking out of the blister, he pressed his left thumb to it, causing it to burst. Burning his thumb, he put it into his mouth to cool. The instant his thumb came between his teeth he felt as wise as if he was a hundred years old. All of his achievements flashed before his eyes and he saw how Ireland and Caledonia would contend for the honor of giving him birth.

It was Finn MacCoul instead of King Cormac that happened on the salmon of knowledge. The moral of the story is that 'time and patience is a virtue'.

Other stories about Finn MacCoul are:
Finn MacCoul and The Isle of Man
Finn MacCoul and The Giants Causeway
How Finn MacCoul And His Men Were Bewitched

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