Manannan mac Lir

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER V....continued

Manannan mac Lir, whose epithet Mac Lir signifies 'Son of the Sea,' was the Irish sea-god. He is usually represented in the old tales as riding on the sea, in a chariot, at the head of his followers. When Bran the son of Febal had been at sea two days and two nights, "he saw a man in a chariot coming towards him over the sea," who turns out to be Manannan mac Lir, and who, as he passed, spoke in verse, and said that the sea to him was a beautiful flowery plain:—

“What is a clear sea

For the prowed skiff in which Bran is,

That is to me a happy plain with profusion of flowers,

[Looking] from the chariot of two wheels.”

Manannan is still vividly remembered in some parts of Ireland. He is in his glory on a stormy night: and on such a night, when you look over the sea, there before your eyes, in the dim gloom, are thousands of Manannan's white-maned steeds, careering along after the great chief's chariot. According to an oral tradition, prevalent in the Isle of Man and in the eastern counties of Leinster (brought from Leinster to Man by the early emigrants: p. 36, supra), Manannan had three legs, on which he rolled along on land, wheel-like, always surrounded by a 'magic mist': and this is the origin of the three-legged figure on the Manx halfpenny.

The Dadga was a powerful and beneficent god, who ruled as king over Ireland for eighty years.

Bodb Derg [Bove-Derg], the Dedannan fairy king, son of the Dagda, had his residence—called Side Buidb [Shee Boov]—on the shore of Lough Derg, somewhere near Portumna.

Aengus Mac-in-Og [Oge], another son of the Dagda, was a mighty magician, whose splendid palace at 'Brugh of the Boyne' was within the great sepulchral mound of Newgrange, near Drogheda.

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