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This is a monthly column that we hope parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or older siblings will share with children of all ages. Most are by our guest columnist, Grainne Rowland; a master spinner of stories who re-tells the tale so well they are once again fresh and new.
"There was a place in childhood that I remember well, And there a voice of sweetest tone bright fairy tales did tell."
Index of All Children's Stories
Kids' Ireland Library
The Salmon of Knowledge
by Grainne Rowlan
"I got him! I got the Salmon of Knowledge!" yelled Finegas, dancing up and down for joy.
Finn came running when he heard his master shout. The Salmon of Knowledge! Finegas had been fishing in the Boyne River for years and years. His only dream had been to catch this well-known fish. Whoever ate THIS salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world! Finn knew now that old Finegas could die happily.
Finn had been studying with Finegas for a year. He had already learned many things from other teachers, and now he was learning poetry from Finegas. He had learned to love old Finegas, even if he was crabby sometimes.
For even if Finegas cuffed Finn's ear or yelled at him at times, Finn always saw the twinkle in his eyes that Finegas tried to hide. So Finn was excited that Finegas had caught the fish at long last.
"Finn! Take this!" growled Finegas. Grinning, Finn took the salmon from his master. He held it at arm's length so the water wouldn't drip on his bare feet. The salmon was obviously a magic fish. Its scales were the colors of the rainbow. They sparkled brightly in the morning sun.
"Take the salmon and cook it over the fire. Make sure it is well-done, but not burned. I want the skin crackly, but not black. Be sure that you spoon the juices over it to improve its flavor. And whatever you do, DON'T take even one small bite of it!" warned Finegas.
Finn's blue eyes were laughing as he put the fish on the spit over the fire. Every day Finegas told him how to cook the meals. Finn could repeat the directions in his mind exactly as Finegas said them every time. The instructions never changed. That is, they had never changed until today. Not take a bite of it! Finn guessed it must have something to do with this being the Salmon of Knowledge.
Finn turned the spit over the fire as he thought about the salmon. He wondered if or how Finegas would change after he had eaten the fish. Would Finegas still want to teach him poetry or would he make him leave and find another teacher? Finn hoped he would not have to leave, for he would miss his old teacher when their time together was finished.
"Finn! Stop your daydreaming and mind the fish!" ordered Finegas. Finn, startled out of his thoughts, checked the fish. Oh! There was a bubble on the skin. Without thinking about it, Finn broke the bubble with his thumb. Ow! That burned, thought Finn. He quickly stuck his thumb in his mouth and sucked the burned spot.
Finn's head spun! He slowly sunk to the ground. He seemed to be in a cloud. What were these pictures he was seeing? People were doing things he only slowly began to understand. They were making wonderful golden jewelry. There were crowds of people listening to a man called Patrick. Men called monks were making wonderfully colored pictures in a book called a Bible. Finn saw people leaving Ireland by the thousands. He saw people celebrating freedom. Slowly his mind cleared and he saw Finegas staring at him in wonderment.
"Well," said Finegas sadly, "I guess the Salmon of Knowledge wasn't for me after all. You are the one the old stories spoke of as he who would know all things. You no longer need me to teach you, Finn."
From that day on, whenever Finn needed to know what was happening at a distance or what was about to happen, he simply had to put his thumb in his mouth. One gentle bite would tell Finn all he needed to know. Finn became a great hero in Ireland. Stories are still told of Finn today!
Rosnaree. Finn Mac Cumhail is said to have cooked the legendary Salmon of Knowledge here.
Index of All Children's Stories
Mon, Feb 23, 2015
This game, which is often described as "the clash of the ash" is the oldest team sport in Ireland. It's played by two teams of 15 players to a side. The girl's version of the game is called Camogie and there are 12 players to a side. One player acts as a goalkeeper while the others try to hit a small leather ball called a sliotar past the goalkeeper. The stick they use is made from the wood of the ash tree. It's shaped a bit like a hockey stick and is called a hurley or camán.
Even in ancient times, there were very strict rules about how the game should be played. Throwing the ball is not allowed; it must be lifted off the ground with the hurley or foot; and to strike an opponent was punished with severe penalties. In today's game, the player is sent off the field.
To buy this Poster click Hurling.
Click for More Culture Corner.
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
In Ireland in the 1780s, a young boy and girl who find a wolf's den in the forest vow to protect the animals from the superstitious townspeople and the greed of the hunters. Rave reviews including this one from Booklist:
"Convincing characters, tense action, and powerful conflicts makethis book an outstanding choice."
To learn more or to purchase, please click The Last Wolf in ireland.
Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books
As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.
A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.
Click here for Irish Songs.