Guided Fly Fishing Ireland

 

       
 

The Salmon of Knowledge

The Salmon of Wisdom or Salmon of Knowledge (bradán feasa) is a creature figuring in the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology.

The Salmon figures prominently in The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, which recounts the early adventures of Fionn mac Cumhaill. According to the story, it was an ordinary salmon that ate the nine hazel nuts that fell into the Well of Wisdom (aka Tobar Segais) from nine hazel trees that surrounded the well. In doing so, the salmon gained all the knowledge in the world. Moreover, the first person to eat of its flesh would, in turn, gain this knowledge.

The poet Finn Eces spent seven years fishing for the salmon. When he finally caught it, he instructed his apprentice, Fionn, to prepare it for him. Fionn burned his thumb when spattered with a drop of the hot fat from the cooking salmon and immediately sucked on it to ease the pain. Unbeknownst to Fionn, all the wisdom had been concentrated into that one drop, and Fionn had just imbibed it all.

When he brought the cooked meal to Finegas, his master saw a fire in the boy's eyes that had not been there before. When asked by Finegas, Fionn first denied that he had eaten of the fish. But when pressed, Fionn admitted his accidental taste. Throughout the rest of his life, Fionn could access this font of knowledge merely by biting his thumb.

It was this incredible knowledge and wisdom gained from the Salmon of Knowledge that allowed Fionn to become the leader of the Fianna, the famed heroes of Irish myth.

In Welsh mythology, the story of how the poet Taliesin received his wisdom follows a similar pattern.

 

 
       
  

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