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King Finvarra, also called Finvara, Finn Bheara, Finbeara or Fionnbharr, is the High King of the Daoine Sidhe in Irish folklore. In some legends, he is also the King of the Dead. Finvarra is a benevolent figure who ensures good harvests, a master at chess, strong horses, and great riches to those who will assist him. However, he also frequently kidnaps human women.
According to the legend, he lives on Knockmaa, a hill near Tuam, in County Galway with his queen Oona (or Oonagh, Una, Uonaidh, etc.) The Queen of the fae often considered him a great commander. There is a ruin on the hill marked on Ordnance Survey maps as "Finvarra's castle". It is mentioned in manuscripts stretching back many centuries.
This "dwindling" of the Tuatha Dé Danann (thought to be the gods of Irish mythology) to the fairies of folklore represents an adaptation of earlier pagan traditions to the later Christianized Ireland. A similar transition can be seen in other myths around the world (such as the Elves of Norse mythology who begin as human-sized beings and transition to tiny forest dwellers in later European folklore).
Finvarra in popular culture and media
- A folk group called Finvarra shares the same name as the Celtic being.
- Finvarra is one of the central characters in the fantasy novel Finvarra's Circus by Monica Sanz.
- Finvarra is referenced in the Lenore Lee Tales, a dark fantasy book series by Stella Coulson - both in the novellas Whitby After Dark and Otherworld.
- Finvarra is a character in The Chronicles of Faerie: The Hunter’s Moon by O.R. Melling.
- A menacing version of Finvarra appears in the 1995 film Leapin' Leprechauns!
- Finvarra is shown as the ruler of Tir Na Nog in the 1998 TV series Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog.
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