Fin-mac-Cool’s Stone-throw: A Folktale of Rostrevor, Ireland

rostrevor-ireland
Pinpoint Location: Rostrevor, County Down/ Map data ©2016 Google

This folktale from Rostrevor tells the tale of Fin-mac-Cool’s contest of strength with a Scotch giant. 

High over the town of Rostrevor rises the great hill of Clough-mor, one of the Mourne range of mountains. Nearly midway up the ascent, a huge mass of granite can be seen which is estimated to weigh over thirty tons. The locals explain the presence of the rock as follows.

The renowned giant Fin-mac-Cool — the strongest man then living — was visited by a Scotch giant of great size and strength. An argument arose about which of them was stronger, and it was resolved that two great fragments of rock, which lay near Carlingford, on the opposite side of the bay, and which were of nearly equal size, would be lifted from their places and cast over the sea beneath.

A large bet was placed on the result. They threw up a halfpenny for the choice of stone, and the Scotch giant won the toss. Of course, he selected the rock that seemed to be lighter of the two. Poising it on his right hand, and swaying his body, the Scotch giant put forth all his strength; but he was unable to send the rock to the opposite shore.

Finn’s then took up the larger rock, and with great ease threw it across the strait, where it landed high and dry on the cliffs beyond. There, as the Clough-mor, it still remains as evidence of his superior strength.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Note that, due to political events at a later date, the region of origin for this legend is currently within the borders of Northern Ireland. Since the tale clearly predates this event, it is included in the Irish collection. The tale itself might well be classified a tall tale, but since the line is often blurred, I’ve decided to keep the label provided by the collector. It may also be interesting to note that it is a local tradition in Rostrevor to roll eggs down the hill at Easter.

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