Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fin M'Coul and Cucullin

Cultural origins: This is an Irish folktale. This is one of the many featuring the beloved Fin M'Coul but one of the few that also features his wife, Oonagh. She is incredibly quick and makes this story loads of fun.

Intended audience: Early Elementary School (5-7)

Why this audience?: This tale can be easily acted out with biting of thumbs and pulling of fingers and the lifting of very heavy objects it is suitable for a younger audience. It's not a terribly long tale either and has space for expansion and abridgment depending on the audience's interest. 

Characters:  Fin M'Coul
Scenes/Settings: Fin M'Coul's home on Knockmany hill

Synopsis: Fin M'Coul was clever and great but not as big and strong as Cucullin. And since giants like to fight and Fin M'Coul knew he would lose in a fight with Cucullin he spent much of his time avoiding him. One day though, when visiting with his wife, Oonagh, in their home on Knockmany hill Fin M'Coul bites his magic thumb and knows that Cucullin has discovered where he lives and is coming for a fight.  Oonagh is quick and calm and tells Fin to dress in blankets and jump in a crib kept by the hearth. She tells him to close his eyes and continuously suck on his magic thumb so he will know what's Oonagh is thinking every minute. 

When Cucullin arrives Oonagh asks him to perform mighty feats that she tells him Fin does for her all the time: move the house around to face north and lift a boulder to create a spring for fresh water. He does all this with considerable effort and the help of his magic middle finger. The she offers Cucullin bread with rocks in it that break his teeth. Cuculling, frightened that Fin M'Coul can lift houses and boulders on a regular basis and eat bread with rocks decides that maybe he has picked the wrong man to mess with. On his way out he sees the giant baby eating what he thinks is the same bread he ate. He wonders if maybe the M'Couls are blessed with magical teeth so Oonagh pushes him to feel the baby's teeth. When Cucullin does this Fin chomps on Cucullin's magic finger and chases him out of the house and down the hill. Cucullin hasn't been heard from since.

Story Climaxes/High Points: When Cucullin sticks his longest finger in Fin M'Coul's mouth Fin chomps down on his finger and Cucullin's strength is lost forever.

Special Chants/Phrases: None

Bibliographic Information:
Phelps, E. J. (Ed.). (1978). The Legend of Knockmany. In Tatterhood and Other Tales (pp.87 - 92). New York: Feminist Press. 

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