BIGFISH OR THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE AT THE LAGAN WEIR IN BELFAST
This is a favourite of mine.
I first saw this when I went on a guided tour and the guide got annoyed with me when I asked if this was based on the Salmon Of Knowledge myth and he insisted that it was just a statue of a fish. For the rest of the tour I accepted everything that he said with a pinch of salt.
In 1999, in celebration of the return of fish to the River Lagan, the city of Belfast erected a sculpture titled The Salmon of Knowledge but locally called The Big Fish.
In 2006 I asked our tour guide if this sculpture was based on the Salmon of Knowledge and he indicated that he did not understand what I was talking about. Later I obtained the following quote from a local official: ” The scales on the Big Fish or Salmon of Knowledge sculpture celebrate the return of fish to the River Lagan”.
The Salmon story figures prominently in The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, which recounts the early adventures of Fionn mac Cumhaill. According to the story, an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that fell into the Well of Wisdom (an Tobar Segais) from nine hazel trees that surrounded the well. By this act, the salmon gained all the world’s knowledge. The first person to eat of its flesh would in turn gain this knowledge.
According to a number of printed tourist guides that I examined “the Big Fish also called the Bigfish is a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture by John Kindness. 10 metres long and constructed in 1999 it is located at Donegall Quay in Belfast, near the Lagan Lookout and Custom House.”
There are also a number of seals nearby but I do not know is they are part of the original art installation.
The outer skin of the fish is a cladding of ceramic tiles decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast. Material from Tudor times to present day newspaper headlines are included along with contributions from Belfast school children. The Big Fish also contains a time capsule storing information/images/poetry relating to the City.
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