CELT document T303003

The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill

Unknown author

English translation

Edited by Kuno Meyer

The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill


1. (Laud 610, fo. 122b, 2.)

After old age had come to Finn the grandson of Baiscne, his men noticed it on him, and he did not dissemble. “Why does he not stay”, said they, “near the king of Erin, and we should gather to thee.” “I am well pleased”, said he. Nine remain with Finn. On the morrow one of them went with the fiann. Then another went, and so on until only one man was left with Finn. “'Tis true then”, said he, “it is old age the men notice on me. I shall know that by my running and leaping, for it is in the east my “Leap” is, even on the Boyne, and I shall go to its brink.” So he set out from the west on the high-road of Gowran into Mullaghmast. There in Mullaghmast he found a woman making curds {}


2. (Egerton 92, fo. 6a, 1).

“{}up to this,” said Finn {} said she {} prophecy {} “that he would die when he should drink {} poison out of a horn.” “True, O hag”, said he. “Here is my brooch for thee.” Then he went along the Boyne eastward until he reached his “Leap”. Thereupon he fell between two rocks, so that his forehead struck against the rock and his brains were dashed about him, and he died between the two rocks. Fishermen of the Boyne found him. They were four, viz. the three sons of Urgriu, and Aiclech the son of Dubdriu. These found him, and Aiclech cut off his head. And the sons of Urgriu slew him i. e. Aiclech. They took his i. e. Finn's head with them into an empty house, and boiled their fish, and divided it in two. His head was over against the fire. “Give it a morsel”, said a black evil-jesting man, “since Aiclech is no more(?).” Three times the fish was divided in two, and still there were three portions. “What is this?” said one of them. Then said the head from before the fire:

  1. 'Tis this that causes the third division
    with you, without any flattery,
    That my bit be given me
    by you at the meal {}

{} as the historian says:

  1. Finn was slain,
    'Twas by spears, without a hero's(?) wound:
    Aiclech son of Duibdriu took off
    His head from the glorious son of Muin.

Document details

The TEI Header

File description

Title statement

Title (uniform): The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill

Title (extended): [Two Fragments]

Title (supplementary): English translation

Editor: Kuno Meyer

Responsibility statement

translated by: Kuno Meyer

Electronic edition compiled and proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: University College, Cork and Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project

Edition statement

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 1200 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http:www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2004

Date: 2008

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T303003

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description

Manuscript sources

  1. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud 610, folio 122 b2; for details see Brian Ó Cuív, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Oxford College Libraries, Dublin: DIAS 2001, pp. 62–88: 87.
  2. London, British Library MS Egerton 92, folio 6a, 1; for details see Robin Flower (ed.), Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the British Library (formerly the British Museum) vol. 2, pp. 505–19: 505.

Editions of this tale

  • Kuno Meyer (ed.), The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 1 (1897) 462–65.

Editions of related tales and secondary literature

  1. Kuno Meyer (ed. and trans.), Fianaigecht: Being a collection of hitherto inedited Irish poems and tales relating to Finn and his Fiana, with an English translation. Royal Irish Academy; Todd Lecture Series 16; Dublin and London 1910. (Repr. 1937 and 1993, DIAS, Dublin). [Still a standard work, comprising introduction to the Finn Cycle, annotated editions of various tales, with English translation, Glossary of the rarer words, and indexes of personal names, tribe names and place names.]
  2. Duanaire Finn, the Book of the Lays of Fionn, 3 vols; 1: Irish text with translation (part I); ed. by Eoin Mac Néill, ITS 7 (1908); 2: Irish text with translation (part II); ed. by Gerard Murphy, ITS 28 (1933); 3: Introduction, Notes, Appendices, Indexes and Glossary; ed. by Gerard Murphy, Anne O'Sullivan, Idris L. Foster, Brendan Jennings, ITS 43 (1953).
  3. James MacKillop, Fionn mac Cumhaill: Celtic Myth in English Literature. Syracuse 1986. [With useful, well-structured bibliography on pp. 197–249].
  4. Daithí Ó hÓgáin, Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of a Gaelic Hero. Dublin 1988.
  5. Máirtín Ó Briain, Review of above, Bealoideas 57 (1989) 174–183.
  6. Donald E. Meek, Review of above, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 22 (Winter 1991) 101–103.

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill’ (1897). In: Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie‍ 1. Ed. by Kuno Meyer. 462–465: 464–465.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {Kuno Meyer},
  title 	 = {The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill},
  journal 	 = {Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie},
  volume 	 = {1},
  address 	 = {Halle/Saale},
  publisher 	 = {Max Niemeyer},
  date 	 = {1897},
  note 	 = {462–465: 464–465}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling declarations

The present electronic text covers Kuno Meyer's English translation of the two fragments on pp. 464–465. The remaining text of the article, comprising introduction and annotated edition of the fragments, is available in a separate file, G303003.

Editorial declarations

Correction: Text has been proof-read once.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Text supplied by the editor is tagged sup resp="KM".

Quotation: Direct speech is marked q.

Hyphenation: When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page break, the break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0=the saga fragments; div1=the individual fragment.

Interpretation: Names are not tagged, nor are terms for cultural and social roles. Irish words are tagged.

Reference declaration

A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “Fragment”, eg Fragment 1.

Profile description

Creation: Translation by Kuno Meyer

Date: c. 1896

Language usage

  • The translation is in English. (en)
  • One word is in Irish. (ga)
<particDesc default="NO" TEIform="particDesc"><person id="Finn" TEIform="person">Finn Mac Cumaill</person></particDesc>

Keywords: saga; prose; medieval; Finn Cycle; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2019-06-05: Changes made to div0 type. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-09-22: Keywords added; file validated; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-07-27: Value of div0 "type" attribute modified, title elements streamlined, creation date inserted, content of 'langUsage' revised; minor modifications made to header. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  5. 2005-08-04T16:43:15+0100: Converted to XML (ed. Peter Flynn)
  6. 2004-01-22: Header inserted; file proofed (1); HMTL file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  7. 2004-01-22: Text keyed in. (text capture Beatrix Färber)

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G303003: The Death of Finn Mac Cumaill (in Irish)

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