Finn McCool & Brian Boru
Fionn MacCumail (anglicized as Finn McCool) was a famous hunter and warrior from Irish mythology. My ancestry goes directly back to him through his daughter Samair, who married Corman Cas, King of Munster. Corman Cas was a direct paternal ancestor of Brian Bóruma (or Brian Boru) who is often considered as the most famous Irish Ruler, who lived during the 10th and 11th centuries.
I am descended through 3 children of Brian Boru. Richard "Strongbow" de Clare, one of the English Norman leaders that conquered Ireland (whom we will discuss in a later blog) was married to Eva (Aoife) McMurrough, a descendant of Brian Boru through his son Donnchad. Brian had a daughter Slani , who married Sihtric III "Silkbeard", one of the Viking Kings of Dublin, whom we we also discuss in a later blog.
Finn's father Cumhail was the chieftan of the Fianna. He had abducted Muirne, daughter of the druid, Tadg mac Nuadat. Tagd appealed to the High King, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who outlawed Cumhail. After Cumhail was killed, Muirne delivered the boy, Fionn, who was secretly raised by a druidess and a warrior woman, who taught him skills to survive and avenge his father's murder.
When Finn was grown he served under various Irish Kings who sent him away once they knew he who was. Discouraged, he wandered Ireland. At one point he was asked by an old Poet near the river Boyne to catch the Salmon of Knowledge and cook it for him. But during the cooking, Fionn burned his thumb. Instantly he put his thumb in his mouth which imbued the Salmon's wisdom to him. He now knew what was needed to challenge his father's murderer.
Later, after Finn had killed the fire-breathing man of the Sidhe, he became the leader of the Fianna. Finn's wife, Sadhbh, had been turned into a deer by a druid for refusing his love. While hunting, Finn's hounds recognized the deer as human, but when Finn brought the deer home, she turned back into human form. Their famous son, Oisin, also has many legendary stories around him.
There is also a famous legend that as a giant it was Finn who created the Giant's Causeway as stepping stones to Scotland.
Finn is considered legendary. Certainly if he really existed, there are many mythical and legendary stories attributed to him. But a clearly historical figure is Brian Boru, who was first the King of Munster, then subjugated Leinster, and eventually becoming High King of Ireland. He was also the founder of the O'Brien dynasty.
For about 500 years before Brian, the High Kingship was held by the Uí Néill clan. Brian led a political and military struggle to change this. By the year 1002 he had forced Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, to recognize him as his superior, thus taking over the High Kingship.
The famous Battle of Clontarf (23 April 1014) in which Brian died, is often considered a watershed event in which Brian Boru was able to defeat the Vikings forever. However, this is not historically quite accurate since the Vikings did not control Ireland and the half-dozen earlier Viking settlements had become integrated with the Irish culture. Nevertheless Brian was often depicted as the savior of the Irish, and his death a noble sacrifice.
When the English Normans invaded Ireland in the late 12th century and began the integration of Ireland into the English polity, the High Kingship of Ireland came to an end. The last High King was #184 Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair, which has been anglicized as Rory O'Connor. I am not descended directly from Rory, but from two of his great-grandfathers; Toirrdelbach (High King #178), a grandson of Brian Boru and Ruaidri, King of Connaught, his paternal great-grandfather, through a sister of Ruaidrí na Saide Buide, who was married to Diarmait macToirrdelbaig, King of Munster (not shown in the charts, but are in my online genealogy database).
Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:
- Fionn MacCumail (Finn McCool)
- Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, High King #175
- Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair (Rory O'Connor), High King #184
Here are some links to help you learn more:
- Fionn MacCumail (Finn McCool): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionn_mac_Cumhaill
- Te Giant's Causeway: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant%27s_Causeway
- Brian Bóruma: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Boru
- Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair (Rory O'Connor): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruaidr%C3%AD_Ua_Conchobair
Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:
Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com
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