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Was Benandonner a Protestant?

  • 31-01-2018 10:30pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3,351 ✭✭✭

    Obviously the REAL Foinn Mac Cumhaill predates the reformation, but when viewed through how his story has been adapted into mythology, isn't it obvious that the story of the Giant's Causeway is an allegory for the political situation of the North?

    Clearly in this allegory, Fionn represents the smart, but mistreated Catholic population, whereas Benandonner represents the oppressive Protestant powerholders.

    While this may seem farfetched, the evidence is most convincing.

    1) The most on the nose point, Benandonner comes across from Scotland, "planting" giant stones to get him to the beautiful and fertile Irish soil. Clearly a crude reference to the Ulster plantation.

    2) The small, undernourished Fionn is intimidated and has to hide from the strong, well fed Benandonner, only winning because of his wits, as all other cards are held by Benandonner. Quite obviously referring to the power dynamics of The North.

    3) Finally, what is Fionn's choice of disguise? A baby. A beautiful representation of the childlike innocence of his land before the illegal occupation by the opposing giant (i.e. The British Protestants).

    I think I've built a strong theory on the true meaning around the mythology of my namesake, but I'd love to hear opposing views (obviously focused on how they relate to the political situation in The North, given the forum).

    Fionn G.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite

    As the legend predates the plantation, there can't be any connection.

    Also, what you have to realise is that the Northern Irish previously invaded Western Scotland as the scoti tribe, which is how both places came to speak the same language.

    Long ago it was easier to travel across water than across land. Looking at it from that point of view, Antrim was more connected to Argyll than it was to other parts of Ireland.
    So IMO the clash of the giants is more an allegory of inter-parish rivalry or a bit of neighbourly craic, than any symbol of international conflict.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,351 ✭✭✭Fionn1952

    Hi Recedite,

    Interesting points you make.

    One issue I have with it though. Your point makes great sense for the general story of Fionn MacCumhaill, as written in The Fenian Cycle, which does indeed predate the plantation, however the myth around the Giant's Causeway is, as far as I can see, a much later addition.

    Even the Irish name for the place (Clochán na bhFomhórach - stepping stones of the Fomorians) implies that the original myths surrounding the causeway were based around The Fomorians rather than Fionn MacCumhall.

    Indeed, while I could be mistaken, the earliest written reference I can find connecting Fionn MacCumhaill to The Giant's Causeway was from the 1800s, considerably later than The Plantation, and with sufficient time for sentiments such as those in my original post to make their way into the oral tradition surrounding the myths of the area.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite

    Fionn1952 wrote: »
    Indeed, while I could be mistaken, the earliest written reference I can find connecting Fionn MacCumhaill to The Giant's Causeway was from the 1800s, considerably later than The Plantation
    OK that's interesting, I wasn't aware of that. I suppose different stories concerning the same character might be from different eras alright, although I would have no idea how difficult it is to check that.
    Probably a lot of storytelling was in the oral seanachai tradition, so quite hard to pin down. Yours is an interesting hypothesis though.