Texts

Dinnshenchas of Cenn Finichair
verse beg. Inmain in fáid Finichair

  • Middle Irish
  • verse, prose
  • Early Irish poetry, Dinnshenchas Érenn, Finn Cycle, dinnshenchas
Dinnshenchas of Cenn Finichair
Initial words (verse)
  • Inmain in fáid Finichair
Context(s)The (textual) context(s) to which the present text belongs or in which it is cited in part or in whole.
Author
Ascribed to: Finn mac CumaillFinn mac Cumaill (Find úa Báiscni)
Fionn mac Cumhaill, Find úa Báiscni
(time-frame ass. with Finn Cycle, Finn mac Cumaill, Cormac mac Airt)
Finn mac Cumaill (earlier mac Umaill?), Find úa Báiscni: central hero in medieval Irish and Scottish literature of the so-called Finn Cycle; warrior-hunter and leader of a fían
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In the prose introduction, the poem is ascribed to Finn. Stanza 2 of the poem refers to Finn in the third person, while the speaker identifies himself as Finn in stanza 7.
Manuscripts
Dinnshenchas Érenn A (prose text and poem):
Language
  • Middle Irish
  • Secondary language(s): Latin
Form
verse, prose (primary)
Metre
trisyllabic rhyme. This a difficult form whose strictures may explain the frequent use of unusual and possibly artificial diction (Gwynn).
  • casbairdne (7³+7³+7³+7³)
Number of stanzas
16
Textual relationships
Although the prose and verse accounts are found in discrete sections of the Book of Leinster, the poem is announced in the prose (see note above). To Tomás Ó Concheanainn, this suggests that the compiler of the manuscript drew on an early version of the mixed recension (C) and imposed a new arrangement on them.(1)n. 1 Tomás Ó Concheanainn, ‘The three forms of Dinnshenchas Érenn’, Journal of Celtic Studies 3 (1981–1983): 95.

Classification

Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry
...

Dinnshenchas Érenn
Dinnshenchas Érenn
id. 6712
Finn Cycle
Finn Cycle
id. 578
dinnshenchasIrish narrative literature, onomastic lore and learning, topographical literature
dinnshenchas
id. 32607

Subjects

Finn mac CumaillFinn mac Cumaill (Find úa Báiscni)
Fionn mac Cumhaill, Find úa Báiscni
(time-frame ass. with Finn Cycle, Finn mac Cumaill, Cormac mac Airt)
Finn mac Cumaill (earlier mac Umaill?), Find úa Báiscni: central hero in medieval Irish and Scottish literature of the so-called Finn Cycle; warrior-hunter and leader of a fían
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Finichair mac GolláinFinichair mac Golláin
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Tuirenn TamnaigeTuirenn Tamnaige
Tuirenn ‘of Tamnach’; wife of Finichair mac Golláin
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Cenn FinichairCenn Finichair

No description available

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TamnachTamnach

No description available

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Contents

Prose text (LL p. 200)

Summary:
Prose dinnshenchas of Cenn Finichair, which the title heading locates i samud Caemgin ‘in the community of Cóemgen’ (i.e. Glendalough).

Finichair mac Gollain, for whom the mountain is said to be named, is described as follows:

  • He is a judge (brithem), (seer-)physician (fáith-liaig) and fosterson to Finn mac Cumaill.
  • Gollan, son of Gainmedach, is his father; Murenn mór-ainec, daughter of Eochaid Find Fúath nAirt, is his mother.
  • His wife is Tuirenn Tamnaige (‘of Tamnach’).
  • He is 50 feet tall and associated with the number 50 in other ways (50 years of age, 50 pupils, 50 women, etc.).

The story runs as follows:

  • Finichair has an affair with the wife (anonymous) of Cathnia(d) Congnaid. When Cathnia has caught them in the act, ‘they’, presumably Finichair and Cathnia (or the adulterous lovers?), slay one another.
  • Cathnia places Finichair’s head (cenn Finichair) on the mountain, whence Cenn Finichair is named for him.
  • Finichair's mother Murenn and his wife Tuirenn die of grief.

The poem, though preserved elsewhere in LL, is announced, with an ascription to Finn.

» Places: Cenn Finichair • Glendalough

Poem (LL p. 191b)

Summary:
Poem attributed to Finn in which he laments the death of Finichair. The etymological connection between the mountain and the eponymous character is absent here, but the poem alludes to much the same story:
  • Finichair's affair with Cathnia's ‘yellow-haired wife’ (mnai mongbuide) is mentioned in stanza 4. Cf. stanza 12.
  • Both men suffer ruin (stanza 5): Cathnia slays Finichair (stanza 4), who appears to return him the favour (stanza 9).
  • Although no mountain is explicitly mentioned, Finichair's grave is described as being ‘fifty feet of earth’ (stanza 3).

What the poem lacks in narrative detail, it compensates in personal descriptions:

  • Finichair is described as a prophet (fáid), seer-judge (fáith-brithem), seer-physician (fáith-liaig), a poet, ‘bard of Almu’ (bard Almaine) and a warrior in his own right.
  • Finichair has his residence (comnaide) in Cabra(d), near Dublin (Gwynn).
  • His ancestry is again emphasized: he is a son of Gollan mac Gainmedaig and Murenn Mornach (of the Clann Morna? cf. the epitet mór-ainec in the prose account); and a descendant of Finn Fuath nAirt.
  • ... forthcoming
» Comments: Finichair mac Gollain » Places: Cabra • Mag Breg • Bregmag • Almu

Sources

Notes

Tomás Ó Concheanainn, ‘The three forms of Dinnshenchas Érenn’, Journal of Celtic Studies 3 (1981–1983): 95.

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Gwynn, E. J. [ed. and tr.], The metrical dindsenchas, 5 vols, vol. 4, Todd Lecture Series 11, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1924.
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive – vol. 4: <link>
318–325 [id. 118. ‘Cend Finichair’] Prose text and poem. Because the use of unusual Irish diction presents difficulties, the translation of the poem is tentative and incomplete in parts. direct link direct link direct link

Secondary sources (select)

Gwynn, E. J. [ed. and tr.], The metrical dindsenchas, 5 vols, vol. 4, Todd Lecture Series 11, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1924.
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive – vol. 4: <link>
461–462 [id. 118. ‘Cend Finichair’] direct link
Contributors
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
August 2012, last updated: August 2021