What is Ireland’s Mythic Heritage
A most interesting characteristic of the Fianna is that they were the heroes “outside the tribe”.
Cú Chulainn in contrast was the hero “inside the tribe”. They, therefore, are a set of myths concerning initiation and rites of passage.
When we look at the values that the young were being initiated in to, bravery, skill, generosity,
a love of nature are central. But there is one theme that seems particularly important. It is evident in the first task facing Fionn when he enters Tara. A monster is destroying the “kings hall” and it is Fionn’s heroic task to kill it. The king’s hall is the meeting place, where all the tribes would come together. It is a symbolically and psychologically important place for community, for feasting and for creating the cultural glue that holds everything together, the ‘place of the fifths’ as it might be called. This theme of the forces that destroy and divide and the forces that unite is at the core of stories like the battle of Magh Lena of Diarmuid and Grianne and of course the Fionn sagas.