Manannán mac Lir (Manannán son of Sea) is a sea deity in Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Manx mythology. He is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His wife is the beautiful sea goddess, Rhiannon Fand (“Pearl of Beauty”), and his daughters are the goddess Áine and Niamh of the Golden Hair. He is also the foster father of many children, among them Lugh of the great hand and the children of Deirdre.
Manannán has strong ties to the Isle of Man, where he is referenced in tradition as having been the nation’s first ruler until the Tuatha Dé Danann were driven by the Milesians into the underworld. At Midsummer, the Gealic Manx people offer bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannán in a “paying of the rent” ritual, accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection in fishing.
Because Manannán has control over the weather and the mists between the worlds the Manx often see him as the deity that carries the dead to Niurin. But while Arawn Midir is the ruler of Niurin, Mannannan rules the land of Inish nan Mag Mel (“Isle of the Plain of Joy”) from his castle on the isle Emhain Abhlach (Isle of the Apple Trees).
Manannán is also a magician who could make an illusory ghostly fleet from sedge and pea shells to discourage any would-be invaders of his realm. Another magical power possessed by Manannán was to envelope himself and others in a mist, so that they could not be seen by their enemies. It was by this method that he was said to protect the Isle of Man from discovery.
Manannán is also in possession of many magical objects among them:
- The cauldron of regeneration,
- The “silver bough” from the trees of Emhain Abhlach,
- The magic swines of Emhain Abhlach ,
- “Wave Sweeper” a ship that doesn’t need sails
- A magical chariot and his horse “Enbarr of the Flowing Mane”
- The goblet of truth
- The cloak of Mists of forgetfullness
- The Breastplate of Manannan no weapon could pierce
- The flaming helmet
- The Shield of Dripping Hazel
- The sword “Fragrach” (Answerer)
- The red and yellow spears
- The swords Little Furry and Great Furry
- The Crane Bag
- The secrets of the Alphabet of Trees