Tóiteán Tighe Fhinn ‘The burning of Finn's house’
verse beg. Truagh annsin a láithrech lis

  • Early Modern Irish
  • verse
  • Finn Cycle
A ballad about a tragic event and its aftermath in Fenian tradition. It relates how Garad mac Morna burnt to death the wives of the fían-warriors in Finn's house and how he was afterwards slain by his son Aod.
Tóiteán Tighe Fhinn
‘The burning of Finn's house’
First words (verse)
  • Truagh annsin a láithrech lis
Speaker: Oisín mac FinnOisín mac Finn
(time-frame ass. with Finn Cycle, Finn mac Cumaill, Saint Patrick, Cormac mac Airt)
A fían-warrior, son of Finn, in the Finn Cycle of medieval Irish literature
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Addressee: Saint PatrickSaint Patrick
(fl. 5th century)
St Patrick
No short description available
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Attributed to Oisín as he addresses St Patrick in the last quatrain of the ballad.
As the old, grey-haired warrior Garad mac Morna lies asleep, the wives of the fían-warriors tie down his hair and beard. When the women raise a battle-cry, he immediately starts up, thereby tearing the hair from his head and face. Because of his humiliation he decides to take brutal vengeance: as the women are staying in Finn's hostel at Drumcree (Co. Westmeath), he shuts them inside by locking all seven doors and sets the building ablaze. Everyone inside, including King Cormac’s daughter Ailbe, dies a miserable death by burning. Many horses and dogs which are dear to the fíana die with them. For a long while Finn and his warriors — those who had not died of grief — go in pursuit of him. At long last, after a number of unsuccessful encounters, they find him asleep in a cave. Garad’s son Aod fights him and cuts off his head, fleeing afterwards and drowning himself in the sea. Father and son are buried side by side by the bay.

Gwynn based his edition on three manuscripts:

Apart from 23 C 26, Arbois de Jubainville lists three other manuscript versions under the same title:(1)n. 1 Marie-Henri D'Arbois de Jubainville, Essai d'un catalogue de la littérature épique de l'Irlande: précédé d'une étude sur les manuscripts en langue irlandaise conservés dans les Iles Britanniques et sur le continent (1883): 246–247.
p. 72
A copy of the Book of Lismore.
In addition, there has been an oral version of the same story. Lloyd (J. H.) wrote down such a version, the Laoid Garaid, which was sung/told to him in Glengesh, Co. Donegal.
  • Early Modern Irish
verse (primary)
Number of stanzas: 69
Number of lines: 264
Textual relationships
Different versions of the tale, or parts thereof, have survived:
  • An earlier and shorter version of the story of Garad’s vengeance occurs in the Acallam na senórach where the company arrives at Úarán nGarad (Oran, Co. Roscommon).
  • A Highland ballad edited by J. F. Campbell, Leabhar na Féinne: heroic Gaelic ballads collected in Scotland chiefly from 1512 to 1871, vol. 1 (1872): 177(?), tells a similar version, though locating the burning of the house in Tara rather than in Drumcree.
  • The poem beginning ‘Is aoibhinn Sliabh Cua rod clos’, provides an alternative account of the death of Garaid’s son Aodh.
Related: Acallam na senórachAcallam na senórachAcallam na senórach/Úarán nGaradAcallam na senórach/Úarán nGaradView incoming dataIs aoibhinn Sliabh Cua rod closIs aoibhinn Sliabh Cua rod closA ballad on the death of Garaid’s son Aod. The story of Aod's quarrel with Muc Smaile for killing his uncle Goll mac Morna, which is known from the Acallam na senórach (ed. Stokes, ending on line 2009), is continued here. E. J. Gwynn(1)n. 1 E. J. Gwynn • J. H. Lloyd, ‘The burning of Finn’s house’, Ériu 1 (1904): 13. summarises the tale as follows:
“Muc Smaile had killed Aod's uncle Goll mac Morna, and had refused to give an eric that Aod considered sufficient. Aod seeks him out at Sliabh Cua, and kills him in single combat: whereupon he is surrounded, with a handful of the Clann Morna, by six hundred of Muc Smaile's men, all of whom are slain in the fight that follows, except their leader Fionn mac Cubhain. But Aod has been twice wounded; 'clouds of weakness' fall on him; the sea comes in, he is unable to stir, and is drowned by the rising tide”.


Finn Cycle
Finn Cycle
id. 578



Garad mac MornaGarad mac Morna
(time-frame ass. with Finn Cycle)
No short description available
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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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Ailbe ingen ChormaicAilbe ingen Chormaic
(time-frame ass. with Cormac mac Airt)
daughter of Cormac mac Airt; wooed by Finn mac Cumaill in the tale of Tochmarc Ailbe.
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Áed mac GaraidÁed mac Garaid
Aodh mac Garaidh
(time-frame ass. with Finn Cycle)
No short description available
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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., and J. H. Lloyd, “The burning of Finn’s house”, Ériu 1 (1904): 13–37.
CELT – edition (pp. 16–32): <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
16–33 Edition, with English translation. Text and discussion of the oral version recorded by Lloyd are found on 34-37.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
July 2011, last updated: September 2023