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Friday, July 1, 2011

Manannan mac Lir

Don’t be afraid. Be very afraid. I’m here to save you. Or maybe to be your executioner. Ha, ha, ha, ha,” laughed the small man, who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He was hopping around from one leg to another, as if the ground was scorching hot. He looked like a clown. Sure, there was no red nose, but his clothing was bright colours, in patches all over; his wild red hair seeming to have a life of its own. Each time he jumped, his whole head would bob from one side to the other. He smelt of fish. Not the revolting smell of rotten fish that is often smelt in fish markets, but the fresh smell of the sea; alive with the creatures of the oceans; the saltiness invading our nostrils."

Manannán mac Lir is the God of the Sea in Irish mythology. 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. Bakky and Arthur mange to repair Cormac's Cup, before using to save Bakky's father's life. However, he eventually returns the cup back to its original mischievous owner. 

Manannán was associated with a "Cauldron of Regeneration". This is also seen in the tale of Cormac mac Airt, among other tales. 

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.

Manannán had many magical items. 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.

If you ever get to visit the standing stones of Lochbuie, be careful. Especially if it's a misty day!

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