The Fenian Cycle

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The Fenian Cycle in Irish Mythology has at its core a band of warriors called the Fianna who were known best through the time they were led by great Fionn Mac Cumhaill. 

To be a member of the Fianna a warrior had to learn to survive in the wild, hunting deer and wild boar cooking them in pots known as ‘Fulachta Fian’, the remains of which can be found around Ireland to this day. Sometimes they were known to serve the high King but were always in fact outsiders to society and definitely a little edgy in nature living within a code of their own which had excellence at its core. 

There were many rules and feats to be completed before a warrior could become a member. His family had to accept and promise never to avenge him if he died. He must be a poet, orator and athlete. He must undergo certain tests that were: To stand in a hole in the ground fending off the spears of nine warriors without letting one touch him. To jump over a branch as high as his forehead and bend under one as low as his knee. To be chased through the woods by many warriors while making sure not to upset one hair on his head nor to break one twig under his foot. To draw a thorn from his foot without ever slowing down. 

The stories of the Fianna are many, sometimes savage, labyrinthian, filled with magic, *Geasas, Kings, Druids, Goddesses and Gods and of course, great romances. Also warriors were not afraid of cutting off the head of an opponent nor abducting a woman they happened to fancy. The were also portrayed as great protectors, generous and fair.  

  • Geasas : Singular Geis which is like a vow mixed up with a taboo

Drawings by Kathy Tynan

http://www.kevinkavanagh.ie/kathy-tynan/