Fionn MacCumhaill’s Rock

Fionn MacCumhaill’s Rock (location on map)

Flann O’Brien’s final and unfinished novel was to be Slattery’s Sago Saga aka From Under the Ground to the Top of the Trees, whose story could be considered a somewhat predictive metaphor for our present situation. It involves the purchase of all the land in Ireland by an eccentric American billionaire and the passing of a law to ban the planting of potatoes there. The crop to be used in substitution to keep its people alive was to be sago trees, “the one thing more productive of starch than the potato”. This was to prevent any recurrence of famine and the mass emigration to America it would cause. Only the first 7 chapters of the novel were written but from notes he made we know it was set to have its climax in a time bending and bloody battle on Sliabh an Iarainn between the main protagonists who would be joined at the last minute by his mythological characters from his debut novel, At Swim Two Birds. He notes the site at the pivotal moment of the scene was to be ‘Giants Rock’ on the slopes of Sliabh an Iarainn (an important site in Irish folklore as this is where the Tuatha DeDannan were said to have landed), also known locally as ‘The Rocking Stone’. In the hope of spreading awareness of this the real rock in question has been located and pictured above and its location placed on the map. The huge boulder is said to have been thrown by Fionn MacCumhaill from Kilronan Mountain across Lough Allen onto the facing slope of Sliabh an Iarainn. (Stephen Rennicks)

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