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Having now read a condensed version of the life of one of Ireland's greatest heroes, you may wish to take the time to read a more complete and comprehensive history. You may also wish to read more about other Irish heroes. Indeed, Finn did have an impressive supporting cast of men about him, to whom I regretfully was unable to do justice in such a short space. I am working next on a node entitled Heroes of the Fianna which will allow me to give some much-deserved space to these other figures of the Fianna cycle. In addition, I would like to recommend the three following print books as excellent starting points for anyone interested in the stories of Finn and the Fianna:

First, "Finn MacCool" by Morgan Llywelyn, written and published in 1994. Ms. Llywelyn has written quite a bit of Irish historical fiction, and while she does "novelize" things a bit for the more mainstream audience, she still does a good job of remaining fairly faithful to the original stories. In this novel she explores Finn as "the man behind the legend", portraying him as somewhat of a charismatic opportunist without lessening his status as a hero. It's a different perspective, but it's a good piece of work, and some might find it easier to read because of its novel format.

Second, the book "Irish Myths and Legends" by Lady Gregory. Originally published under the excruciatingly verbose title "Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, Arranged and Put Into English by Lady Gregory" in 1904, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most recently (to the best of my knowledge) by Running Press in 1998. It contains the early legends of the Tuatha de Danaan, their fights with the Fir Bolg and touches briefly on their eventual defeat at the arrival of the Milesians. The remaining 300-odd pages are devoted solely to Finn and the Fianna, and is a very comprehensive source for all of his adventures, ranging from the plausible to the fantastic. Excellent for the more devoted enthusiast.

Third, "Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition" by Dr. Daithi O hOgain, published in 1991 by Prentice Hall Press. A much more academic study of a wide variety of Irish folk history, including a wealth of information on Finn, Goll, Cormac and all of the other major characters in the Fianna Cycle. While it is extremely informative, it is unfortunately presented with an academician's cynicism and is characteristically concerned with "The Truth". As such, it does demystify much of the material, which is in my opinion rather unfortunate. However, for sheer quantity of information and value of reference, it is invaluable.

This leads us to a final point. While I have a bit of disdain for it, many may wish to know "The Truth". Did Finn mac Cumhail really exist? Was he the great hero he is represented to be? Did he really have all (or any) of these adventures, or is it all simply fairytales told to children? Well, to these questions I submit not an answer, but an idea to be considered. That idea is that the stories of Finn mac Cumhail and his companions have been told and retold for so many hundreds of years, and they are so deeply ingrained in Irish culture and in the hearts of the Irish people, that they do exist by that virtue alone, and will continue to exist as long as the stories and traditions are kept alive.

Long live Finn mac Cumhail.

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