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Irish Mythology

The Tuatha de Danaan: Manannan

pre-12th century—present. Old Irish | Modern Irish, folklore.

Manannan liked to roam about Ireland, sometimes in the shabby clothes of a harper or a conjurer, at other times in the fine clothes of a warrior.

Manannan was a son of Lir – the god Lir, whose daughters became swans in a beautiful Irish story of enchantment and disguise. Manannan himself liked to travel about in disguise.

On one occasion, Manannan came to the stronghold of a chieftain dressed in the clothes of a clown. The chieftain asked him where he was from and Manannan gave a long list of the places he had spent a night. 'A pleasant, rambling, wandering man I am, and it is with you yourself that I am now, O’Donnell,' he said. O’Donnell admitted him and was so enthralled by his skill at the harp that he refused to let him go. When the guards attempted, by force, to stop Manannan from leaving, however, they wounded and killed each other instead; but Manannan gave the gatekeeper a herb to rub into their lips, to bring them back to life again.

Off again on his wanderings, he once disguised himself, so they say, as the Gilla Decair, the Hard Servant, an unruly menial who rode an absurd horse and caused Diarmuid to be led down through the waters of a spring into an Otherworld. Then another time he took a heroic part as a warrior in a cattle raid for the men of Connacht. Then he was back on the road again in his old striped clothes and leaking shoes once more.

Arriving at a new fortress clothed this way, he announced himself as a conjurer. One of his magic tricks led to the decapitation of a boy. 'I would rather that such things were not done in my hall,' censured the chieftain, Tadg O’Cealaigh, so Manannan rejoined the boy's head to his body and, once he had screwed it back straight, [the boy] was as well as before.

Story fragment recounted from: Gregory, Lady A., 1904. Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, Arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory. John Murray, London. Reprinted, 1998. Irish Myths and Legends. Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia, USA. Part One: The Gods. Book IV: The Ever-living Living Ones. Chapter 9: Manannan at Play, pp 114–119. Also: Part Two: The Fianna. Book VI: Diarmuid. Chapter 4: The Hard Servant, pp 308–19.

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Weird Tales—discussion.

references

Tuatha de Danaan – Wikipedia

Manannan – Wikipedia

Gods and Fighting Men – ancient tales of Ireland put into English by Lady Augusta Gregory. 1904. Project Gutenberg.

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