Now as to Manannan
the Proud, son of Lir,
after he had made places for the rest of the Tuatha
de Danaan to live in, he went away out of Ireland himself.
And some said he was dead, and that he got his death by
Uillenn Faebarderg, of the Red Edge, in battle. And it is what they said, that
the battle was fought at Magh Cuilenn, and that Manannan was buried standing
on his feet, and no sooner was he buried than a great lake burst up under his
feet in the place that was a red bog till that time.
And the lake got the name of Loch Orbson, from one of the
names of Manannan. And it was said that red Badb was glad and many women were
sorry at that battle.
But he had many places of living, and he was often heard
of in Ireland after. It was he sent a messenger to Etain, mother of Conaire
the High King, the time she was hidden in the cowherd’s house.
And it was he brought up Deirdre’s
children in Emhain of the Apple Trees, and it was said of that place, "a
house of peace is the hill of the Sidhe
of Emhain." And it was he taught Diarmuid
of the Fianna
the use of weapons, and it was he taught Cuchulain
the use of the Gae
Bulg, and some say it was he was Deirdre’s father, and that he brought Conchubar,
king of Ulster, to the place she was hidden, and he running with the
appearance of a hare before the hounds of the men of Ulster to bring them
And it is what they say, that the time Conchubar had
brought the sons of Usnach to Emain Macha, and could not come at them to kill
them because of their bravery, it was to Manannan he went for help.
And Manannan said he would give him no help, for he had
told him at the time he brought Deirdre away that she would be the cause of
the breaking up of his kingdom, and he took her away in spite of him.
But Conchubar asked him to put blindness for a while on
the sons of Usnach, or the whole army would be destroyed with their blows. So
after a while he consented to that. And when the sons of Usnach came out
against the army of Ulster, the blindness came on them, and it was at one
another they struck, not seeing who was near them, and it was by one
another’s hands they fell.
But more say Manannan had no hand in it, and that it was Cathbad,
the Druid, put a sea about them and brought them to their death by his
And some say Culain, the Smith, that gave his name to
Cuchulain afterwards, was Manannan himself, for he had many shapes.
Anyway, before Culain came to Ulster, he was living in
the Island of Falga, that was one of Manannan’s places. And one time before
Conchubar came into the kingdom, he went to ask advice of a Druid, and the
Druid bade him to go to the Island of Falga and to ask Culain, the smith he
would find there, to make arms for him. So Conchubar did so, and the smith
promised to make a sword and spear and shield for him.
And while he was working at them Conchubar went out one
morning early to walk on the strand, and there he saw a sea-woman asleep on
the shore. And he put bonds on her in her sleep, the way she would not make
But when she awoke and saw what had happened, she
asked him to set her free. "And I am Tiabhal," she said, "one
of the queens of the sea. And bid Culain," she said, "that is making
your shield for you, to put my likeness on it and my name about it. And
whenever you will go into a battle with that shield the strength of your
enemies will lessen, and your own strength and the strength of your people
So Conchubar let her go, and bade the smith do as she had
told him. And when he went back to Ireland he got the victory wherever he
brought that shield.
And he sent for Culain then, and offered him a place on
the plains of Muirthemne. And whether he was or was not Manannan, it is likely
he gave Cuchulain good teaching the time he stopped with him there after
killing his great dog.
Manannan had good hounds one time, but they went hunting
after a pig that was destroying the whole country, and making a desert of it.
And they followed it till they came to a lake, and there it turned on them,
and no hound of them escaped alive, but they were all drowned or maimed.
And the pig made for an island then, that got the name of
Muc-inis, the Pigs Island afterward; and the lake got the name of Loch Conn,
the Lake of the Hounds.
And it was through Manannan the wave of Tuaig, one of the
three great waves of Ireland, got its name, and this is the way that happened.
There was a young girl of the name of Tuag, a fosterling
of Conaire the High King, was reared in Teamhair, and a great company of the
daughters of the kings of Ireland were put about her to protect her, the way
she would be kept for a king’s asking.
But Manannan sent Fer Ferdiad, of the Tuatha de
Danaan, that was a pupil of his own and a Druid, in the shape of a woman of
his own household, and he went where Tuag was, and sang a sleep-spell over
her, and brought her away to Inver Glas.
And there he laid her down while he went looking
for a boat, that he might bring her away in her sleep to the Land of the
Ever-Living Women. But a wave of the flood-tide came over the girl, and she
was drowned, and Manannan killed Fer Ferdiad in his anger.
And one time Manannan’s cows came up out of the sea at
Baile Cronin, three of them, a red, and a white, and a black, and the people
that were there saw them standing on the strand for a while, as if thinking,
and then they all walked up together, side by side, from the strand.
And at that time there were no roads in Ireland, and
there was great wonder on the people when they saw a good wide road ready
before the three cows to walk on. And when they got about a mile from the sea
they parted; the white cow went to the north-west, towards Luimnech, and the
red cow went to the south-west, and on round the coast of Ireland, and the
black cow went to the north-east, towards Lis Mor, in the district of
Portlairge, and a road opened before each of them, that is to be seen to this
And some say it was Manannan went to Finn
and the Fianna in the form of the Gilla Decair, the Bad Servant, and brought
them away to Land-under-Wave. Anyway, he used often to go hunting with them on
Cnoc Aine, and sometimes he came to their help.
Source: Lady Gregory - Gods
and Fighting Men, first published 1904.
republished by Colin Smythe Ltd. 1970.