Mannanan mac Lir was an ancient ocean. He was the son of ("mac") another ocean god, Lir. Mannanan lived on an island that was known by the three names Mag Mell ("plain of honey"), Tir Tairngiri ("land of promise"), and Emain Ablach ("island of apples"). He was also a skilled shape-shifter.
In Celtic mythology, Manannán mac Lir' is the god of the sea, although he is the son of Lir, who also holds that position. He is often seen as a psychopomp, and considered to have strong connections to the Otherworld islands of the dead, as well as to weather and the mists between the worlds. He is usually counted as one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, although most scholars consider him to be of an older race of deities. He features, under slightly varying names, across early Irish, Scots, Welsh, and Manx myth.
==In mythology and folklore==
Manannán appears in many Celtic myths and tales, although he only plays a prominent role in some of them.
In the tale "His Three Calls to Cormac", Manannán tempts the Irish King Cormac mac Airt with treasure in exchange for his family. Cormac is led into the Otherworld and taught a harsh lesson by Manannán, but in the end his wife and children are restored to him. Also, Manannán rewards him with a magic cup which breaks if three lies are spoken over it and is made whole again if three truths are spoken.<ref name="Gregory1">Gregory, Lady Augusta (1903) online "Part I Book IV: His Three Calls to Cormac" in Gods and Fighting Men. Buckinghamshire, Colyn Smyth</ref>
The tale "Manannan at Play" features the god as a clown and beggar who turns out to be a harper. Manannán, here in his trickster guise, plays a number of pranks, some of which resulting in serious trouble; by the end of the tale, he compensated for the pranks that got him in trouble.<ref name="Gregory2">Gregory (1903) "Part I Book IV: Manannan at Play"</ref>
In the Ulster Cycle tale, Serglige Con Culainn ("The Sickbed of Cúchulainn") Manannán's wife, Fand, has an ill-fated affair with the Irish warrior Cúchulainn. When Fand sees that Cúchulainn's jealous wife, Emer is worthy of him (and accompanied by a troop of armed women), she decides to return to Manannán, who then shakes his magical cloak of mists between Fand and Cúchulainn so that they may never meet again.<ref name="SCC">"Serglige Con Culainn", Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition</ref><ref name="SCC-English1">The Sick-Bed of Cuchulain transcribed from The Lost Yellow Book of SlaneBy Maelmuiri mac Ceileachair into the Leabhar na h-Uidhri in the Eleventh Century</ref>
In the Voyage of Bran, Manannán prophesied to Bran that a great warrior would be descended from him.
The 8th-century saga Compert Mongáin recounts the deeds of a legendary son, Mongán mac Fiachnai, fathered by Manannán on the wife of Fiachnae mac Báetáin.
Manannán has strong ties to the Isle of Man, where he is referenced in a traditional ballad as having been the nation's first ruler.<ref name="Ballad">Traditionary Ballad - Mannanan Beg Mac y Leirr</ref> On Midsummer, the Manx people offer bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannán in a ritual "paying of the rent", accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection in and fishing. He is also believed to have been a magician who could make an illusory fleet from sedge or pea shells in order to discourage would-be invaders.<ref name="Morrison1">Morrison, Sophia (1911) "Manannan Mac Y Leirr" in Manx Fairy Tales. London, David Nutt / Long Acre</ref><ref name="Evans Wentz1">Evans Wentz, W.Y. "IV. In the Isle of Man" in The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries</ref>
According to the Book of Fermoy, a Manuscript of the 14th to the 15th century, "he was a pagan, a lawgiver among the Tuatha Dé Danann, and a necromancer possessed of power to envelope himself and others in a mist, so that they could not be seen by their enemies."<ref>Folk-lore of the Isle of Man: Chapter I. Myths Connected with the Legendary History of the Isle of Man<!-- Bot generated title --></ref> It was by this method that he was said to protect the Isle of Man from discovery.
Manannán was associated with a "cauldron of regeneration". This is seen in the tale of Cormac mac Airt, among other tales. Here, he appeared at Cormac's ramparts in the guise of a warrior who told him he came from a land where old age, sickness, death, decay, and falsehood were unknown (the Otherworld was also known as the "Land of Youth" or the "Land of the Living").
As guardian of the Blessed Isles as well as Mag Mell he also has strong associations with Emhain Abhlach, the Isle of Apple Trees, where the magical silver apple branch is found. To the Celts, the Blessed Isles that lie beyond the sea are the gateways to the Otherworlds, where the soul journeys to after death. Manannán is the guardian of these gateways between the worlds. He is the Ferryman, who comes to transport the souls of the dead through the veils.Template:Fact
Mannanán's powerful role in the cycle of life and death is also expressed in his possession of magic swine whose flesh provides food for feasting by the gods, and then regenerates each day, like that of Odin's boar Sæhrímnir in Scandinavian myth.<ref>David B. Spaan, "The Place of Manannan Mac Lir in Irish Mythology," Folklore 76 (1965), p. 185; Miranda J. Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth (Routledge 1998), p. 170 online and Celtic Myths (University of Texas Press, 1995), p. 17 online. See also J.G. Oosten, The War of the Gods (Routledge, 1985), p. 73 online.</ref>
As his name suggests, Manannán's father is the sea-god Lear "Sea, Ocean" (Lir being the genitive), whose role he seems to take over. According to Táin Bó Cúailnge (the Cattle Raid of Cooley), his wife is the beautiful goddess, Fand ("Pearl of Beauty" or "A Tear" - later remembered as a "Fairy Queen", though earlier mentions point to her also being a sea deity). Other sources say his wife was the goddess Áine, though she is at other times said to be his daughter. Manannán had a daughter, whose name was Niamh of the Golden Hair. It is also probable that another daughter was Cliodna, but sources treat this differently. Either way, she is a young woman from Manannán's lands, whose surname is "of the Fair Hair". Mongán mac Fiachnai is a late addition to the mac Lir family tree. The historical Mongán was a son of Fiachnae mac Báetáin, born towards the end of the 6th century. According to legend Fiachnae, who was at war in Scotland, came home with a victory because of a bargain made with Manannán (either by him, or by his wife) to let Manannán have a child by his wife. This child, Mongán, was supposedly taken to the Otherworld when he was very young, to be raised there by Manannán. The Compert Mongáin tells the tale.
Despite not being the biological father of many children, Manannán is often seen in the traditional role of foster father, raising a number of foster children including Lugh of the great hand and the children of Deirdre.
Manannán had many magical items. He gave Cormac mac Airt his magic goblet of truth; he had a ship that did not need sails named "Wave Sweeper"; he owned a cloak of mists that granted him invisibility, a flaming helmet, and a sword named Fragarach ("Answerer" or "Retaliator") that could never miss its target. He also owned a horse called "Enbarr of the Flowing Mane" which could travel over water as easily as land. In some sources he is described as driving his chariot over the sea as if over land, and through fields of purple flowers.
Manx legends<ref name="Fairy Tales">Boyhood of Lugh: Manx Fairy Tales, Peel, L. Morrison, 1929</ref> also tells of four items that he gave to Lugh as parting gifts, when the boy went to aid the people of Dana against the Fomorians. These were:<ref name="Fairy Tales"/> "Manannan's coat, wearing which he could not be wounded, and also his breastplate, which no weapon could pierce. His helmet had two precious stones set in front and one behind, which flashed as he moved. And Manannan girt him for the fight with his own deadly sword, called the Answerer, from the wound of which no man ever recovered, and those who were opposed to it in battle were so terrified that their strength left them." Lugh also took Enbarr of the Flowing Mane, and was joined by Manannan's own sons and Fairy Cavalcade. When he looked back on leaving, Lugh saw<ref name="Fairy Tales"/> "his foster-father's noble figure standing on the beach. Manannan was wrapped in his magic cloak of colours, changing like the sun from blue-green to silver, and again to the purple of evening. He waved his hand to Lugh, and cried: 'Victory and blessing with thee!' So Lugh, glorious in his youth and strength, left his Island home."
==Other names and etymology==
The Irish name, Manannán, derives from an earlier name for the Isle of Man. The patronymic mac Lir may have been metaphorical and meant 'son of the sea' (ler is Manx for 'sea' and lear is Irish for 'sea').
On the Isle of Man itself, Manannán is known as Mannan beg mac y Leir/"little Manannan son of the sea" (beg is Manx for "small").
In the Irish manuscript, The Yellow Book of Lecan, there are said to be "four Manannans". The name given for the "first Manannan" is:
:Manandan mac Alloit, a Druid of the Tuath De Danann, and in the time of the Tuath De Danann was he. Oirbsen, so indeed, was his proper name.... Oirbsen over the land, so that from him (is named) Loch Oirbsen. This was the first Manannan.<ref name="Skene">Skene, William F. "Chapter VI. Manau Gododin and the Picts" in The Four Ancient Books of Wales</ref>
Manannáns Welsh equivalent is Manawydan fab Llyr
*Tochmarc Étaíne ("The Wooing of Étaín")
*Serglige Con Culainn ("The Wasting Sickness of Cúchulainn")
*Tochmarc Luaine "The Wooing of Luan"
;Cycles of the Kings
*Immram Brain maic Febail ("The Voyage of Bran son of Febal)"
*Echtra Cormaic maic Airt ("The Adventure of Cormac mac Airt")
*Compert Mongáin ("The Birth of Mongán")
*Lebor Gabála Érenn ("The Book of Invasons"), First Recension
*Altram Tige Dá Medar ("The Nourishment of the Houses of Two Milk-Vessels")
*Sanas Cormaic ("Cormac's Glossary")
Irish mythology in popular culture: Manannán mac Lir
*Folklore of the Isle of Man, A.W.Moore, 1891 online
*Gods and Fighting Men, Lady Gregory; 1904 online
*The Manx Notebook online
;Specific sources and footnotes
==Manannán mac Lir==
* The traditional of offering bundles of reeds on the Isle of Man is still practised as an opening ceremony of Tynwald.<ref>Isle of Man - Tynwald 1998 - Photo Gallery - Photograph #1<!-- Bot generated title --></ref>
*There is a museum in the town of Peel on the Isle of Man named the House of Manannan<ref>House of Manannan</ref> as well as an annual celebration of the arts The Manannan Festival.
* The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel, which entered service in May 2009 on the Liverpool/Douglas sailings, is named Manannan.<ref>New Steam Packet vessel to be named Manannan</ref>
*Okells Brewery on the Isle of Man produces a wheat beer dedicated to and named after Manannan Mac Lir.<ref>Okells | Brewery<!-- Bot generated title --></ref>
* On his Human History CD, Ken Theriot includes a song he wrote from the point of view of Manannan called Son of the Sea.<ref>Ken Theriot at Ravenboy Music</ref>
* The figure is also referred to in songs by metal bands. The Gaelic doom band Mael Mórdha last album's (Gealtacht Mael Mordha) closing track is called Minions of Manannan, telling of his revenge on the fleeing Vikings from the battle of Cluain Tarb. Track 4 on black metal band Absu's album Tara is called Mannanan.
* Manannan features as the first guardian boss in the 2004 console game The Bard's Tale.
* The fictional Star Wars galaxy features an oceanic planet called Manaan, possibly a homage to the Celtic god.Template:Citation needed
*The Temple of Manannan: A Neopagan site
*Manannan - The Celtic God of the Sea (Crystalrivers.com)
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