Thursday, 8 March 2018

Fintan

The speakers at Saturday's all day seminar on Tracing your Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors being given for BIFHSGO by the Ulster Historical Foundation are Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt. While the name Gillian is familiar Fintan was new to me. I wondered about the origin.

According to Wikipedia:

In Irish mythology Fintan mac Bóchra (modern spelling: Fionntán), known as "the Wise", was a seer who accompanied Noah's granddaughter Cessair to Ireland before the deluge. Bóchra may be his mother, or may be a poetic reference to the sea.

He was one of only three men in the expedition, along with fifty women, so he, Cessair's father Bith, and the pilot, Ladra, had sixteen wives each. Fintan's wives are named: Cessair, Lot, Luam, Mall, Mar, Froechar, Femar, Faible, Foroll, Cipir, Torrian, Tamall, Tam, Abba, Alla, Baichne, and Sille. He married Ebliu later. His only son was Illann.

His wives and children were drowned when the flood arrived but he survived in the form of a salmon, remaining a year under the waters in a cave called Fintan's Grave. He then turned into an eagle and then a hawk then back to human form. He lived for 5500 years after the Deluge, becoming an advisor to the kings of Ireland.

Another version of the story, in James P Mallory's book The Origins of the Irish, had 150 women rather than 50 and Fintan becoming the only surviving male. In what Mallory terms an "entertaining version" the entire troop of grieving widows charged after Fintan and in order to escape what could have been "an endless series of extremely tiring nights he either hid in a cave or turned himself into a salmon to survive for a thousand years and was later reconstituted as a man."

Fintan Mullan will not face the same challenge as his namesake but will need stamina of a different sort during the multi-stop UHF tour.

The image above is from the website Myths and Legends of Ireland - Irish Mythology.

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