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Mannanan Mac Lir

The Irish god of the sea and fertility, who forecasts the weather. He is older than the Tuatha Dé Danann, yet was considered to be one of them. He is the son of Lir and his name means "Manannan Son of the Sea". His wife is Fand and he is the foster-father of many gods, including Lugh. He is the guardian of the Blessed Isles, and the ruler of Mag Mell. Manannan has a ship that follows his command without sails; his cloak makes him invisible; his helmet is made of flames and his sword cannot be turned from its mark. He is described as riding over the sea in a chariot.
His Welsh equivalent is Manawydan ap Llyr. He is also called Barinthus Manawydan ap Llyr, son of Llyr and Penarddun and brother of Branwen and half brother of Nisien and Efnisien. Manawydan was a scholar, a magician, and a peaceful man. But when Bran learned of the slavery imposed upon his sister Branwen by her Irish husband Matholwch, he joined the expedition to rescue her. Matholwch was terrified at the sight of a forest approaching Ireland across the sea: Bran's navy, and Bran himself wading through the water. He sued for peace, they built a house big enough for Bran, and Matholwch agreed to settle the kingdom on Gwern, his son by Branwen. Some Irish lords objected, and hid themselves in flour bags to attack the Welsh. But Efnisien, scenting Irish treachery, cast them into the fire, and then cast Gwern himself in (avoiding the geas against shedding kinsmen's blood thereby). A war broke out, and the Irish replenished themselves through the cauldron. Efnisien, repenting, sacrificed himself by feigning death and being thrown into the cauldron, which he then broke, dying in the process. Only seven Welshmen survived, and Bran was fatally wounded. His head, which remained alive and talking, was returned to Wales and buried, and soon afterwards Branwen sailed to Aber Alaw and died. Manawydan inherited after Bran's death, but surrendered the kingdom to his cousin to avoid warfare. He married Rhiannon, widow of Pwyll of Dyfed and mother of Pryderi, and went to live there. One day, all of Dyfed turned into a wasteland, and only Rhiannon, Manawydan, Pryderi, and his wife Cigfa, were spared. Manawydan and Pryderi out hunting followed an enormous white boar into a caer, where Pryderi saw a golden bowl; when he touched it, he was enspelled. Rhiannon went after him and fell under the same spell; the caer then vanished, taking them with it. Manawydan, turning to farming, lost his crops to an army of mice which were clearly faery mice. He managed to catch one, and despite being begged by important passersby (priests in the Christianized version) threatened to hang it. Finally, Llwyd appeared and confessed to being behind all the trouble, in vengeance for Gwawl, Rhiannon's original suitor
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From-"Mannanan Beg Mac y Leirr"

"Little Mannanan was son of Leirr,
He was the first that ever had it;
But as I can best conceive,
He himself was a heathen.

It was not with his sword he kept it,
Neither with arrows or bow,
But when he would see ships saving,
He would cover it round with a fog.
He would set a man,standing on a hill,
Appear as if he were a hundred;
And thus did wild Mannanan protect
That Island with all it's booty.

The rent each landholder paid to him was,
A bung of coarse meadow grass yearly,
And that as thier yearly tax,
They paid to him each midsummer eve."

Traditionary Ballad Mannanan Beg Mac y LeirrClick To go to full Text.


Mannanan Mac Lir: Dalraida Heritage Trust
Mannanan Mac Lir: Shining Lakes Grove
lines to mannanan: (by whose hand legend tells that the Isle was cast into the Sea)
rite for Mannanan: Erainn Laurie
Mannanan: Brief Bio
Manannan Mac Lir: Short Essay
Celtic Mythology:Manannan Mac Lir: Another Essay
Mannan Mac Lir: Collage by Katharina Kroeber

Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert. Used with permission.