The Myth of Manannan Mac Lir

The Myth of Manannan Mac Lir

Manannan or Manannan Mac Lir was a popular deity in Celtic mythology, belonging to an Irish mystical race known as the Tuatha De Danann (thoo'a-hay-day-danawn). Son of Lir, the Irish God of the sea, Manannan's title was Lord of the Sea - beyond or under which Land of Youth or Islands of the Dead were supposed to lie - and he was also known as the Master of Tricks and Illusions.

In many Celtic stories, we are told of Manannan's wife, the Fairy Queen Fand, also known as The Pearl of Beauty, his sons Ilbhreac (Fairy King), Fiachna and Gaidiar, and daughters Áine, Aoife and Griane. Manannan also had a foster son named Lugh; the Great Warrior, on whom he bestowed his magical belongings.

Manannan's magical possessions consisted of a steed named Enbarr of the Flowing Mane (Irish), sometimes refered to as Finbar, which could travel over land and sea; the Ocean Sweeper/Wave Sweeper, a magical boat which obeyed the thoughts of those who sailed in it, and could travel without oar or sail; the Cloak of Mists, which was capable of changing to every kind of colour, and when Manannan was angry would make a thunderous sound when the cloak flapped; a sword called The Answerer (Irish - Fragarach) that could cut through any armour; a spear called Ctann Buide (Yellow Tree); and a breastplate which no weapon could pierce.

The Isle of Man was the throne of Manannan, his stronghold was on the top of Barrule, and he held his court from Manannan's Chair at Cronk y Voddy. The Isle of Man takes its name from Manannan.

In Irish mythology, Manannan was killed in battle by Uillenn Faebarderg in the battle of Magh Cuilenn and is said to be buried in the Tonn Banks, off the coast of Donegall. Many shipwrecks have occured there and the spirit of Manannan is supposed to ride on the storm. The Tonns form one part of a triad known as "The Three Waves of Erin".

More Information:
Associated Herbs: Trees & Fungi: Alder, Hawthorn, Ragwort, Burdock
Animals: The Crane, Horses, Pigs and Salmon
Symbols: Triskelion, The Triton
 
Traditions: On Misummer Eve, the Manx would bring a tribute of rushes to South Barrule.

Stories, Myths and Legends associated with Manannan

The Boyhood of Lugh
[Source: Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911]
The story of Lugh's upbringing on the Isle of Man with Manannan, and the gifts that Manannan gave to Lugh.

The coming of Saint Patrick
[Source: Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911]

Manannan Mac-Y-Leirr
Source: Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911]

The Enchanted Isle
[Source: Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911]
The story of Lugh's upbringing on the Isle of Man with Manannan, and the gifts that Manannan gave to Lugh.

The Fosterage of the House of the Two Pails
[Source: From the Book of Fermy]
this tale is exceptionally interesting and unique because it features Manannan speaking of the Christian religion, as well as providing some connection with Manannan to India.

The Wasting Sickness of Cúchulainn
[Source: TRANSCRIBED FROM THE LOST YELLOW BOOK OF SLANE
By Maelmuiri mac Ceileachair into the Leabhar na h-Uidhri in the Eleventh Century]
A myth mainly revolving around the love triangle of Fand, Emer, and Cuchulain. Manannan has a rather grand entrance at the end of the tale. This is the often referenced myth where Manannan waves his cloak between Fand and her lover.

The Adventures of Art Son of Conn
[Source: Ancient Irish Tales, ed. Tom P. Cross and Clark H. Slover, Henry Holt & company, 1936]

Death Tales of the Tuatha De Danann
[Source: from the Book of Leinster 1150 A.D.]
An account of how various figures of the Tuatha de Danaan met their fate.

The Story of the Tuatha De Danann
[Source: from the Book of Leinster 1150 A.D.]
The arrival and settlement of the Tuatha De Danann.

Cormac Mac Art in Faery
[Source: Joseph Jacobs - More Celtic Fairy Tales]
Corma of Arts' quest for his wife and daughter and how he came to to fare at the Court of Manannan.

The Voyage of Bran Mac Febal
[Source: Kuno Meyer - The Voyage of Bran, (translation), London David Nutt, 1895]
An account of Bran's voyage out of Ireland.

The Voyage of Bran Mac Febal (poem)
[Source: Kuno Meyer - The Voyage of Bran, (translation), London David Nutt, 1895].
The Poem version of Bran's voyage out of Ireland

Aine and Ailill Olum
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
The revenge of Áine, one of the daughters of Manannan.

Bodb Dearg
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
A short introduction regarding when Manannan gave the Tuatha de Danann the gift of invisibility, and their stonghold.

Cat-Heads and Dog-Heads
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
A brief account of how Manannan came to own a shield made from a hazel tree that bore the decapitated head of Balor for 50 years.

Cliodna's Wave
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
An account of Manannan's household and the lovely maiden fated to stay there.

Dagda
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
A tale of how Manannan helped Angus cliam the house of Dagda.

His Call to Bran
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
Bran's strange voyage out of Ireland, and how he was lost to time. Manannan has an early role in this as the gatekeeper between worlds.

His Three Calls to Cormac
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
King Cormac's travel to the Other World, and what he discovers in Manannan's home. A very magical and mischievous tale.

Manannan
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
A selection on Manannan's rumoured death, the activities that followed his death, assumed identities and events he triggered.

Manannan and Bran Mac Febal
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]

Manannan at Play
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
Also known as O'Donnel's Kern, this is one of the best reads, and very funny and charming in some parts.

The Help of the Men of Dea
[Source: Lady Gregory - Gods and Fighting Men, first published 1904. republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970]
A short story involving Illbrec, one of the sons of Manannan.

Cuchulain in Fairy Land
[Source: T.W. Rolleston - Celtic, first published 1911. republished by Senate 1994]
The story of Fand's (Manannans wife) short love affair with Cuchulain and how she returned to Manannan.

Lir and Manannan
[Source: T.W. Rolleston - Celtic, first published 1911. republished by Senate 1994]
A short introduction about Lir and Manannan.

The Tale of Ethne
[Source: T.W. Rolleston - Celtic, first published 1911. republished by Senate 1994]
The story of Manannan's granddaughter's path to mortality, helped by St Patrick.