Cumhall (earlier Cumall, pronounced roughly "Coo-al" or "Cool") or Cumhall mac Trénmhoir ("son of Trénmór/Tréanmór" meaning "strong-great") is a figure in the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology, a leader of the fianna and the father of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
The most important text the regarding the family of Finn (son of Cumaill) is Fotha Catha Chnucha ("The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha"), as it is contained in the ancient parchment Lebor na hUidre (LU), dated to the 12th century. Otherwise, the next most important tract is the Macgnímartha Finn ("The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn") copied in a 15th-century manuscript.
According to the Fotha Catha Chnucha, Cumhall mac Trénmhoir[a] was son of a petty king, and served the High King Conn Cet-Chathach "of the Hundred Battles". Cumhall was also Conn's half-uncle, his mother being the mother of Conn's father,[b].
In Fotha Catha Chnucha Cumhall's wife was the granddaughter to Nuadat who was a druid to king Cathair Mór, but she was granddaughter to Núadu of the Tuatha Dé Danann according to a passage in the Acallamh na Senorach. Also where the former work gives Almu daughter of Becan as Nuadat's wife, the latter treats Almha the daughter of Brecan as a virgin daughter who bore Cumall a son then died in childbirth.[d]
Cumhall had a brother, Crimmal mac Trénmhoir, who was an ally of Fionn.
Battle and death
Tadg, slighted by Cumall's sweeping away his daughter, appealed to Cumall's lord, Conn of the Hundred Battles, and Conn gave choice of either relinquishing the daughter or suffer banishment. Cumall refused to give up his wife, and Conn made war against Cumhall, and Cumhall was killed by Goll mac Morna in this Battle of Cnucha, located at what is today Castleknock. Goll then took over leadership of the Fianna, as explained in the Magnímartha Finn.
Cumhall's wife Muirne was already pregnant with his son, Fionn, and Muirne's furious father Tadg not only refused to accept her back, but ordered her burnt to death. Cumhall's wife however seeks Conn's protection, and in exile she delivers a child which she names Demni. Demni (Demne) later became Finn.
Cumhall is reputed to be buried within the grounds of Castleknock College, supposedly under a hill upon which an old water tower now stands.
Attempts to connect Cumhall with Camulus, a Celtic god of war known from Roman-era inscriptions, are now largely rejected. Old Irish cumal means "female slave", and it is possible that a noble father was invented for Fionn to obscure an ignoble origin. Alternatively, some early texts call the hero "Fionn mac Umaill", which may indicate his father's name was originally Umall.
- cummal mac trenmóir LU
- King Fedelmid rechtaid LU being Conn's father.
- or Muirne Muincháem "of the Lovely Neck"; Cf. Windisch.
- Note that the name is corrupted to "Cumall son of Tredhorn son of Cairbre" in the one passage of Acallmh na Sénorach, but is "Cumall son of Trénmór" in the other.
- Mackillop (1985), pp. 19–20.
- Hennessy (1875), p. 87.
- Hennessy (1875), Fotha Catha Chnucha, pp. 88–89 and notes.
- Dooley & Roe (1999), p. 184.
- Windisch (1879), p. 142: mun-caim 'die Schönhalsige'.
- O'Grady (1892a) ed. Acallam na Senórach, p. 216, O'Grady (1892b) tr., p. 245, Stokes (1900) ed. 6546–6562; Dooley & Roe (1999), p. 183–184
- Hennessy (1875), pp. 86–89
- O'Grady (1892b) tr. p. 245:Cumall son of Tredhorn son of Cairbre
- O'Grady (1892b) tr. p. 131:Cumall son of Trénmór, Almha daughter of Bracan.
- Meyer (1904), p. 185.
- Hennessy (1875), pp. 88–91
- Meyer (1904), p. 180, note 3.
- Meyer (1904), pp. 180–181 and verse: "'Tis for the chieftancy of Erin's fian / That they waged the stout battle".
- Hennessy (1875), pp. 90–91 and commentary, p. 87.
- Hennessy (1875), pp. 90–91
- Mackillop (1985), p. 20.
- Meyer (1904), p. 183: "Demne shall be named Finn (the Fair)".
- Acallam na Senórach
- Tales of the Elders of Ireland. Translated by Dooley, Ann; Roe, Harry. Oxford University Press. 1999. pp. 152–154, 155–158, 174–176 (and endnote) p. 171ff. ISBN 978-0-192-83918-3.
- O'Grady, Standish H., ed. (1892a), "Agallamh na Senórach", Silva Gadelica, Williams and Norgate, pp. 94–232
- O'Grady, Standish H., ed. (1892b), "The Colloquy with the Ancients", Silva Gadelica, translation and notes, Williams and Norgate, pp. 101–265
- Stokes, Whitley, ed. (1900), Acallamh na Seanórach; Tales of the Elders, Irische Texte IV. e-text via CELT corpus.
- Mackillop, James (1985), Fionn mac Cumhail: Celtic Myth in English Literature, London: Syracuse University Press, ISBN 9780815623533
- Hennessy, William Maunsell, ed. (1875), "Battle of Cnucha", Revue Celtique, 2: 86–93 (ed. "Fotha Catha Cnucha inso" , tr. "The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha here"). archived via Internet Archive
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