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King MacArt

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Who is that fionn maccumhail?
~ The King asking who Finn is


King MacArt was the grandfather of the legendary Irish hero Finn MacCumhail and one of the six antagonists of Finn's story. He was the first antagonist who Finn encounters, being a lifelong enemy of Finn's, and attempting to kill him when they meet again.



Biography

King MacArt ruled Ireland sometime in Druidic times when he was told by a druid that his brother would meet his death in battle the next time he was with a woman. What's more, his brother's son would grow up to overthrow the king. Enraged, King MacArt had all the male children and babies in his kingdom killed. This, he hoped, would ensure he remained king.

Little did he know, Finn MacCumhail, his grandson, was born too. But the king did find out and he had his grandson thrown from a tower into a lake to drown. But when Finn surfaced, he came up holding a salmon. King MacArt's wife saw this as important; she abandoned her husband and saved Finn and ran off to raise the boy as hers.

Later, when the grandmother had raised Finn, they returned to the kingdom. Finn wasn't recognized by his grandfather, but they joined in a game, where Finn bested all the competitors, and angered his grandfather. In the midst of it he exclaimed "Who is that fionn maccumhail?" which meant "white cap" in Irish because of Finn's unusual white hair. So, his wife saw an opportunity to give Finn a proper name, Finn, which meant white. So, the king had men hunt down Finn in vengeance for "humiliating" him in the games. He hired two champions on brown and white horses, which his wife said meant nothing, but then there came a black man on a black horse, which his wife gave up, saying he was a real champion. So, King MacArt's wife said that if she sank in a swamp, Finn had to go on with his hound named Bran, and King MacArt's men would decide to chop off her head and pretend it was Finn's. This happened, and King MacArt's wife saved Finn by sacrificing herself.

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