A long time ago in Ireland there lived a very wise old man named Finnegas. He knew everything about nature, birds, animals, plants, clouds and the stars.
But he always wanted to know more. He lived beside a river where there was a magic fish. Everyday he stared into the water hoping to see this magic fish – the Salmon of Knowledge, swim by. Whoever caught and ate this fish would know all there was to know in the world. Lots of people, including Finnegas tried to catch this fish but they had no luck.
One day a small boy called Fionn McCumhaill and his mother came by. Fionn’s mother wanted Finnegas to teach Fionn about the world. Finnegas agreed. Everyday Finnegas sat by the river teaching Fionn all he knew about the world.
Then one day, a huge fish swam by. Finnegas was so excited because he was sure this was The Salmon of Knowledge. He ran to get his fishing net.
The salmon was strong. It jumped and twisted and turned in the net for a long time. Eventually Finnegas landed the fish. ‘Hurray!’ they both cheered and Finnegas fell to the ground, exhausted. Finnegas was too tired to cook the fish so he left Fionn in charge, with this warning: ‘No matter what happens – Do not eat any of the fish.’
Fionn did as he was told and cooked the fish over a big fire, turning it two or three times. After a while a bubble appeared on the side of the fish. Without thinking, Fionn burst the bubble with his thumb. ‘Ouch!’ he yelled as it burnt him. He immediately put his sore thumb into his mouth to cool it and make it better.
After some time Finnegas woke up . He was very hungry and he was looking forward to having the salmon for his tea. He called Fionn who came immediately. He then noticed something strange about the boy. His eyes seemed bluer and his cheeks redder. He also looked bigger and stronger. Then Finnegas knew what had happened. ‘Did you eat any of the fish?,’ he asked.
‘No, but …while the salmon was cooking a bubble came up on its side and I burst it with my thumb,’ Fionn replied.
‘Then you, and not I, are the one to get the gift of knowledge from the salmon,’ Finnegas said sadly. ‘You must go now , I can teach you no more – Good Luck!’
From then on, if Fionn needed to know anything he just put his thumb in his mouth and he knew what to do,
Fionn grew up to be a great and famous leader in Ireland.