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          Once upon a time, when the world was young and magic filled the air, Ireland’s greatest warrior was born. His name was Fionn MacCuhal, but his friends called him Finn.
          No one knows exactly where Finn was born. He was found in the middle of a dangerous swamp by two ugly old women named Lia and Bomall. They felt sorry for the hungry baby, so they named him Demna, which means "from nowhere." Then they took him to their hut in the dark, wild forest and raised him as their own son.
          Lia and Bomall taught the lad to hunt and fish when he was very young. By his tenth birthday, he was one of the finest hunters in the land.
          One day while he was stalking a wild stag in the deepest part of the forest, he came across a holy man. The wise old druid taught him how to read and write.
          Finn learned the ways of the forest, and how to talk to the animals. He even learned to hear the wind spirits that blew through the tall trees.
          "You are the son of Cuhal MacTrenmor, the High King’s warrior," the spirits whispered in his ear. "When you grow up, you must take your place in the King’s army and become a mighty hero like your father!
          "Your mother was Muirinn, one of the fairy folk who live under the hills," they told him. "Your special wisdom and gift for magic comes from her. Someday you will be the world’s greatest poet."
          The more he learned about his parents, the more the restless boy longed for glory and excitement. Finally he left the dark forest, and headed for the King’s palace at Tara. But the journey was long, and he was still very young. It took him a long time to travel across Ireland.
          One day he came across some boys playing in a river. They called him "Fionn," which means silver, because of his long silvery-white hair. "I have never liked the name I was given," he told them, "so I will change my name. I will call myself Fionn, or Finn."
          The boys taught him how to fight with a sword. Finn learned how to run all day and night like the finest warriors. He was so strong and so fast that none of the other boys could beat him.
          "Someday," he promised himself, "I will be famous, just like Cuchulain The Great! The High King himself will say what a brave fighter I am!"
          As Finn grew older, he searched the land for horrible monsters and ogres. He killed them all, then wrote beautiful poems and songs about his battles. People began to talk about his heroic feats, until even King Cormac himself heard about Finn’s mighty quests.
          "I need a strong, brave warrior to lead my army," King Cormac told Finn. "With you as their leader, they will be the best soldiers in the whole world."
          Finn fought in many battles, and kept King Cormac safe from danger. Enemies learned to fear Finn, and they ran away when he and his men appeared. King Cormac was very pleased with him.
          One day, Finn was drinking water at a pond near the misty fairy hill when a graceful red deer walked out of the woods. The deer wasn’t afraid of him or his fierce hunting dogs.
          Suddenly the deer changed into a beautiful woman right before Finn’s eyes! Her name was Sive, and she was one of the Tuatha de Danann, the fairy-folk who lived deep under the hill. "We have watched you for a long time," she told Finn. "You are more than just a great warrior. You are wise, and you love the land. We are very proud of you."
          Finn fell in love with Sive. "If you will marry me," he promised, "I will build you a huge stone castle up on the fairy hill, so you can see the whole world. And I will protect you and your people forever."
          Sive agreed to marry Finn, and they lived happily together until after their son, Oisin, was born. Then Sive and Oisin were kidnaped by Finn’s enemies.
          Finn searched for many years, and finally found his son again. But he never found Sive. Some people claimed that she escaped from Finn’s enemies and went back to the fairy hills, where she was safe.
          Finn led the King’s army for a long time, and became a great hero. He won so many battles that King Cormac made him a prince. Poets sang wonderful songs about him, and he wore fine clothes and a heavy gold chain around his neck, just like the King himself.
          But he never stopped missing Sive. "I know she must still be alive somewhere," he insisted. "I will never stop searching until I find her again!"
          One night, when Finn was an old man, Sive finally came back to him. She was still young and very beautiful, because the fairy folk never grow old.
          "Now that our son is grown and can lead the King’s army," she told him, "you are free to leave this world, and we can finally be together again. Will you come with me, and live in my fairy kingdom for the rest of our lives?"
          Finn smiled and took Sive’s hand, and they walked away together into the darkness.
          No one knows what happened to Finn that night. Some people say that he simply vanished into the mist. Others claim that Sive made Finn young again, and that they are still happily living together under the mystical fairy hill.
         
But everyone knows that Finn MacCuhal was one of the greatest Irish heroes of all time.

 

 The End

 

 

Written by:  Jo Grant