The Salmon of Knowledge

Salmon Of Knowledge Story

Many years before Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn McCool) became the leader of a band of Irish warriors or Fianna, he was an apprentice for a poet named Finnegas.

According to Irish mythology, the first thing to ever come into creation was a hazel tree, and in the branches of the tree contained all the knowledge of the universe. A few of the nuts had fallen off the tree and had landed into the murky waters of the River Boyne where the great speckled salmon lived.

The salmon devoured several of these nuts and in turn, gained all the knowledge in the universe.

the salmon of knowledge

An old druid (Celtic Priest) passed on this story to Finnegas and said he believed that whoever ate the salmon would gain its knowledge.

Finnegas didn't live too far from the River Boyne and has spent several years trying to catch this magical fish to no avail. Until one day when Fionn had heard a struggle and a massive splash along the water's edge, he went running towards the noise and there he found Finnegas completely exhausted, but he had caught the salmon of knowledge.

the salmon of knowledge

Since he was too tired to cook the fish himself, he had asked Fionn to do it for him but said 'under no circumstances, do you eat any of this fish'.

Fionn was unaware of what would happen when Finnegas ate this fish, as whenever Fionn would ask him why he spent his days fishing, Finnegas gave a cheeky smile but no answer.

Fionn wasn't about to question Finnegas, so he did what he was asked and built a fire and began to cook the fish. The fish had been cooking for several minutes and he decided to flip it over to make sure the fish was cooked thoroughly but as he did that, his thumb had briefly touched the fish and left him with a painful burn. Without thinking, Fionn quickly put his thumb in his mouth to relieve some of the pain.

the salmon of knowledge

When Fionn brought the fish over to Finnegas, he noticed there was something different in his apprentice's eyes that were not there moments ago. Finnegas asked Fionn if he ate any of the fish which Fionn denied but had told him what happened to his thumb.

At that moment Finnegas knew that Fionn had all the knowledge that the salmon has once had, he was sad he would not be the wisest man in Ireland but was happy for Fionn.

the salmon of knowledge

Not too long after, Fionn has left Finnegas and the knowledge and wisdom he gained from the Salmon of Knowledge are what lead Fionn to become the leader of the Fianna and to be the great ancient Irish warrior we know today.

Did you know that Finn McCool also built The Giant's Causeway? You can read The Giant's Causeway Story here.

  • Held The Knowledge Of Universe
  • Gained Wisdom From Hazelnuts
  • Came From River Boyne
  • Burnt Finn Mccools Finger
  • Past Knowledge On To Finn Mccool
  • Took Finnegas 7 Years To Catch
  • Had A Long Life - Hard 2 Catch
  • Legend In Irish Mythology
  • Known As The Big Fish Belfast

The Salmon of Knowledge lived in a massive river called the River Boyne, that stretches through multiple counties in the Republic of Ireland.

In Belfast we have our own Salmon of Knowledge, however it is a large ceramic version of it. You can see this piece of art on our Belfast hop on hop off tour.

Fionn MacCumhaill ate the Salmon of Knowledge, however he did not catch it. He accidently burned his thumb while cooking the fish for his master Finnegas, whom spent 7 years of his life trying to catch the fish, until 1 day he did.

While trying to releave the pain, Fionn put his thumb in his mouth consumming a tiny bit of the fish. But it was enough to gain all its knowledge.