Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Finn, an Irish legendary hero, the leader of the King’s warriors known as the Fianna Erinn. The Finn Cycle is composed of a series of ballads celebrating the brave exploits of this third century hero and his band of warriors; their virtues and their weaknesses; the eventual diminution of their powers; the dissolution of the band; and the waning of a heroic age.
Cumhal, the former leader of the Fianna Erinn and Finn’s father.
Murna, Finn’s mother.
Goll Mac Morna
Goll Mac Morna, the leader of the rival clan and, later, Finn’s strong and loyal warrior.
The Lord of Luachar
The Lord of Luachar, a chieftain slain by Finn in his first heroic exploit.
Finegas, a sage from whom Finn learns wisdom and the art of poetry.
Conn, the ruler of Ireland, who makes Finn captain of his band of warriors known as the Fianna Erinn.
Oisin, Finn’s son. He is a warrior poet. After his father’s death, he is taken to an enchanted land where none grows old. After more than two hundred years, homesick for Ireland, he returns and finds the land populated by weaklings, and the heroic age long since passed.
Oscar, Finn’s grandson, the fiercest fighter of the Fianna Erinn.
Dermot, the ladies man,
Keelta, the warrior poet,
Conan the Bald
Conan the Bald, the gluttonous and slothful trickster, and
Mac Luga, the one skilled in courtesy, Finn’s men.
The Dark Druid
The Dark Druid, a sorcerer who changes his beloved into a deer. She is released from the spell by Finn and becomes his wife. When Finn is called away to war, the Dark Druid recaptures the girl and takes her away, this time forever.
Vivionn, a giantess.
Fergus, a minstrel whose music restores peace between quarreling clans.
Grania, the daughter of the king of Ireland. She is married to Finn in his old age.
Niam, a fairy princess who takes Oisin to an enchanted land where none grows old.
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Gregory, Isabella Augusta. Gods and Fighting Men. 2d ed. Gerrard Cross, England: Colin Smythe, 1976. A reprint of Lady Gregory’s 1904 retelling of Irish legends. Includes an introduction to the influence of Irish myth by W. B. Yeats and a preface. Most of the book represents stories from the Finn Cycle with some explanation. Includes interesting notes.
Mac Cana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1985. An excellent introduction to Celtic mythology and the Finn Cycle. A perfect source for beginners. Includes index.
Matthews, John. Celtic Battle Heroes: Cuchulainn, Boadicea, Fionn MacCumhail, Macbeth. Poole, Dorset, England: Firebird, 1988. An informative and accessible supplement that provides information on all essential elements of the Finn Cycle. Examines the legend’s thematic relation to contemporary ideas.
Rolleston, T. W. Celtic Myths and Legends. 1911. Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, 1990. An exhaustive study of Irish and Welsh myths within a historical, literary, and religious setting. A solid, often enjoyable retelling of the stories. Includes drawings, a copious index, and glossary.
Sutcliff, Rosemary. The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool. New York: Dutton, 1967. An enjoyable retelling of the legends surrounding the Finn Cycle. Drawings enhance the text. Includes an interesting introduction to the project.