When he was a young boy Finn McCool would spend time with Fingas on the banks of the river Bush. Fingas was a wise old man and a poet who taught  Finn about many subjects including the stories of Ulster's heroes and heroines.    The old man had been living alone for many years beside the river Bush in a small wooden cabin and had a special reason for doing so.  He kept  a close eye on the river Bush, day and night, hoping to catch the legendary’ 'Salmon of Knowledge'.   This was no ordinary salmon, this salmon had been raised far up the river Bush beyond Armoy  in a deep pool surrounded by nine hazel trees known in local folklore as the 'Well of Wisdom'.

 

The salmon was not like any  salmon, if was large, it returned to the river whenever it felt to and never aged. When it was growing up it ate one hazelnut that had fallen into the pool from each of the nine trees and by doing so had gained all the knowledge from the well of wisdom.  It was also said that the first person to eat this salmon would gain all the knowledge it possessed.  Everyone who had so far tried to catch it had failed because the salmon had a special ability to send to sleep anyone who looked in its eyes. Fingas knew all of this, having been put to sleep several times before but he still hoped that where others had failed he would succeed.    One day  as Fingas and Finn were  sitting chatting by the river  the legendary salmon rose from the water.  Fingas was always prepared and quickly grabbed his net and cast  it out across the river like he had done many times before. The mighty salmon soon got  caught in the net like it had done so many times before,  and so began an epic struggle between Fingas and the Salmon which lasted for more than two hours, when the giant fish began to get tired.    Fingas summoned all his energy and dragged the fish closer to the river bank, just when he thought he had  landed the salmon it raised its head from the water and their eyes connected, immediately  Fingas felt the sleep coming upon him, he called to Finn to help him pull the fish ashore which he did, before falling asleep he instructed Finn to make a fire and cook the salmon and wake him when it was cooked. He told Finn not to eat anything from the salmon.

 

Finn did what he was asked and made a fire, he placed the salmon on a spit and every now and then he would turn it with two sticks. On the last turn one of the sticks broke and the salmon, now soft, was about to fall into the fire, Finn reached out  with his hand  to stop it  from falling in the ashes and burnt  his finger doing so, he instinctively put his finger in his mouth to soothe the pain.   Having saved the cooked salmon from the ashes, he went over to wake Fingas,  after ten minutes of shaking the old man finally awoke. When he looked at Finn he noticed something different about him and asked,  'did you eat anything form the salmon'. ? Finn replied. No, I did exactly as you said. 'Why do you keep putting your finger in your mouth' , Fingas asked, and Finn told him what had happened. Fingas then knew that Finn had unwittingly received all the knowledge from the salmon. He also knew that this was destiny and that Finn was the rightful bearer of  that wisdom.

 

Fingas told Finn  that he was well deserving of the gift  that had been granted to him from the salmon of knowledge. Finn went on to become a wise and fearsome warrior,the guardian of the king of Ulster and the leader of the Fianna, an elite group of warriors.