Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition

Background details and bibliographic information

Finn and the Man in the Tree

Author: Unknown

File Description

Translated by Kuno Meyer

Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber

Proof corrections by Beatrix Färber

Funded by The HEA via PRTLI 4

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent of text: 1355 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Ireland


Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: T303012

Availability [RESTRICTED]

Available with prior consent of the CELT project for purposes of academic research and teaching only.


    Manuscript source for the Irish text
  1. Dublin, Trinity College Library, H 3 18, a vellum of the 16th century.
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. Kuno Meyer, Finn and the Man in the Tree in Revue Celtique. Volume 25, Paris, Émile Bouillon (1904) page 344–349


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The electronic text covers pages 344–349. The English translation is available in a separate file.

Editorial Declaration


Text has been proof-read once.


The electronic text represents the edited text including footnotes.


Quotations are rendered q.


When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, the page-break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word (and punctuation).


div0=the tale; div1=the section.


Names of persons (given names) and places are not tagged.

Canonical References

This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the story.

Profile Description

Created: By Kuno Meyer (May 1904)

Use of language

Language: [EN] The translation is in English.
Language: [LA] Some words are in Latin.
Language: [GA] Some terms are in Irish; the footnotes contain Irish words.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T303012

Finn and the Man in the Tree: Author: Unknown


The first four volumes of the Ancient Laws of Ireland published under the auspices of the Brehon Laws Commissioners have repeatedly been made the subject of severe but just criticism. Among other things, the urgent necessity of a collation of the printed text with the original manuscripts from which O'Donovan and O'Curry made their transcripts has often been pointed out. Such a collation I hope will soon be undertaken


by members of the School of Irish Learning founded in Dublin, and the results laid before the public. But far more than this would be necesary if the student is to be supplied with a critical edition of the various texts contained in the four voulmes. O'Donovan and O'Curry selected certain manuscript versions without consulting and comparing, except in a few instances, other copies which often furnish better readings, supply gaps, or contain additional matter of importance. Perhaps now that the first volume is out of print, the Commissioners may see their way to entrust a new edition of the Senchas Mór based upon all existing copies to a scholar of recognised standing. To show by example what important additions to our knowledge may be expected from such an edition I print here an interesting story of the Finn cycle taken from the version of the Senchas Mór contained in the vellum codex H. 3. 18. It is given as an example of the practice of incantation called imbas forosnai, and has, so far as I am aware, not been preserved elsewhere.

As did Finn ua Baiscne. When the fian were at Badamair on the brink of the Suir, Cúldub the son of Ua Birgge came out of the fairy-knoll on the plain of Femen (ut Scotti dicunt) and carried off their cooking from them. For three nights he did thus to them. The third time however Finn knew1 and went before him to the fairy-knoll on Femen. Finn laid hold of him as he went into the knoll, so that he fell yonder.2 When he withdrew his hand, a woman met him3 (?) coming out of the knoll with a dripping vessel in her hand, having just distributed


drink, and she jammed the door against the knoll, and Finn squeezed his finger between the door and the post. Then he put his finger into his mouth. When he took it out again he began to chant, the imbas illumines him and he said [Here follows an untranslatable ‘rhetoric’].

Some time afterwards they (i.e. the fian) carried off captive women from Dún Iascaig4 in the land of the Dési. A beautiful maiden was taken by them. Finns mind desired5 the woman for himself. She set her heart on a servant whom they had, even Derg Corra son of Ua Daigre. For this was his practice. While food was being cooked by them, the lad jumped to and fro across the cooking hearth. It was for that the maiden loved him. And one day she said to him that he should come to her and lie with her. Derg Corra did not accept that on account of Finn.6 She incites Finn against him7 and said: ‘Let us set upon him by force!’ Thereupon Finn said to him: ‘Go hence,’ said he, ‘out of my sight, and thou shalt have a truce of three days and three nights, and after that beware of me!’8

Then Derg Corra went into exile and took up his abode in a wood and used to go about on shanks of deer (si uerum est) for his lightness. One day as Finn was in the wood seeking him he saw a man in the top of a tree, a blackbird on his right shoulder and in his left hand a white vessel of bronze, filled with water, in which was a skittish trout, and a stag at the foot of the tree. And this was the practice of the man, cracking nuts; and he would give half the kernel of a nut to the blackbird that was on his right shoulder while he would himself eat the other half; and he would take an apple out of the bronze vessel that was in his left hand, divide it in two, throw one half to the stag that was at the foot of the tree, and then eat the other half himself. And on it he would drink a sip of


the water in the bronze vessel that was in his hand, so that he and the trout and the stag and the blackbird drank together. Then his followers asked of Finn who he in the tree was, for they did not recognise him on account of the hood of disguise which he wore.

Then Finn put his thumb into his mouth. When he took it out again, his imbas illumines him and he chanted an incantation and said: ‘'Tis Derg Corra son of Ua Daigre,’ said he, ‘that is in the tree.’

Pöstyen, Hungary,

May 1904
Kuno Meyer