BY RICHARD R. BRASH, M.R.i.A.
[note this paper reflects thought mid 19th century]
THE original discovery and peopling of our European islands are enveloped in the mists of fable and tradition. Saturn, Jupiter, and Minos are said to have been early kings of Crete; Phorcus, a descendant of Noah, to have peopled Sardinia. Sicilian chronologists deduce the pedigrees of the Sicilians from Gomer, the son of Japhet, whom they assert to have peopled that island a short time after the flood. Brutus and his Trojans are fabled to have found their way to these islands, and to have given a name to Britain. The Irish Seanachuidhe attributes the colonisation of Ireland to Partholanus, a descendant of Magog, the son of Japhet, three hundred years after the flood; while Man, not to be outdone by these greater rivals, claims for itself a trnly ancient and fabulous colonisation.
The subject I have taken up in connection with the Isle of Man is an exclusively mythic one. Mananan Mac Lir cannot claim an historical existence; nevertheless his name and attri butes are so mixed up with the written romance, and tradi tionary lore of Ireland, that the possible existence of some personage who formed the foundation of these ancient tales, is more than probable.
The origin of the geographical name, Man, has been a puzzle to the historian and antiquary. The learned Camden gives the names by which it was known to ancient authors. He writes, - " Ptolemy calls it 'Monoeda quasi Moneitha' ; i.e., if I may be allowed a conjecture, Further Mona, to distinguish it from the other Mona; Pliny, Monabia; Orosius, Mevania; and Bede, Menavia Secunda, where he calls Mona (or Anglesey) Menavia Prima, and both British islands." In the Irish version of Nennius it is called Eubonia and Manau. In an ancient MS. in the Harleian Collections, quoted in the Cam. Quart.Mag., iv, p. 23, Man is styled Manan Guodotin.
From the foregoing it is evident that the names Manan, Man, are the foundation of all the above appellations; but whence this root, and by whom originally applied? Here Irish traditionary lore steps in, and supplies the clue when it states that this island derives its name from Mananan Mac Lir, or "Mananan the son of the sea," a celebrated navigator and merchant who made Man the chief depot of his trade. Gough, in his additions to Camden, notices this tradition when he states, it makes "the first owner of this island to have been Mananan Mac Leir, a magician, who kept it enveloped in perpetual mist till St. Patrick broke the charm." Ler or lear (the sea), genitive lir, is an Irish word still in general use. In Bullock's history of the Isle of Man, the above tradition is thus introduced from the Manx Statute Book: "Mananan Mac Leir (the first man who held Man), was ruler thereof, and after whom the land was named, reigned many years, and was a paynim. He kept the land under mists by his necromancy. If he dreaded an enemy, he would of one man cause to seem an hundred, and that by art magic." Sacheverel, in his account of Man, notices the same myth.
Before entering on the Irish traditions of this personage, it would be well to notice the close connection existing between Ireland and Man from the remotest ages. Aethicus, the cosmographer, asserts that the Isle of Man as well as Ireland was peopled by the Scoti, "Menavia insula aeque ac Hibernia a Scotorum gentibus habitatur." Orosius makes a similar statemont, - " Britanniae spatio terrarum angustior sed coeli colitur. Hinc etiam Mevania insula proxima est et ipsa spatio non parva solo commoda aeque a Scotorum gentibus habitatur." (Cambrensis Eversus, vol. i, p. 159.) According to the Irish annalist, Tighernac, Cormac, the son of Con Cead-Catha (of the hundred battles), in A.D. 254 expatriated a number of his rebellious subjects, Ultonians, and compelled them to emigrate into Man. From thence he was called Cormac Ulfada. The learned editor of the Irish version of Nennius adopts the opinion that the expelled Ultonians were Irish Picts or Crutheni. We have, how ever, traces of an earlier occupation of Man, as is stated in the work above cited, - " But the Firbolgi seized upon Man and certain islands in like manner, Ara, Ili, and Rachra.1 (Irish Arch. Soc. Pub., Dublin, 1848, p.49.) The Firbolgs were the colonists who preceded the Tuaths de Danans and Milesians in the occupation of Ireland.
Camden, Usher, Lhuyd, and Pinkerton, all acknowledge the Manx to be descended from the Hibernian Scoti. The languages are admitted by philologists to be identical, with the exception of such variations as local causes, and a strong Scandinavian element would produce.
The topographical nomenclature of Man is intensely Irish [? Celtic. Ed.] The Rev. Isaac Taylor, in his admirable work, Words and Places, upon this subject has the following passage:
"The ethnology of the Isle of Man may be very completely illus trated by means of local names. The map of the island contains about four hundred names, of which about twenty per cent, are English, twenty-one per cent, are Norwegian, and fifty-nine per cent. are Celtic. These Celtic names are all of the most characteristic Erse type. It would appear that not a single colonist from Wales ever reached the island,2 which from the mountains of Caernarvon is seen like a faint cloud upon the blue waters." There are ninety-six names beginning with Balla; and the names of more than a dozen of the highest mountains have the prefix Sliew, answering to the Irish Slievh or Sliabh. The Isle of Man has the Curraghs, the Loughs, and the Allens of Ireland faithfully reproduced. It is curious that the names which denote places of Christian worship are all Norwegian. They are an indication of the late date at which heathenism must have prevailed."
It is a curious and suggestive fact that the fossil deer of Ireland is found nowhere out of that island except in Man.3 On the 3rd of September, 1856, a communication was read before the Kilkenny Archaeological Society by Mr. Edward Benn of Liverpool, advocating the theory of the contemporary existence of man and the Miegaceros Hibernicas, or gigantic fossil deer of Ireland. He writes, - " I have also stated that they are known to Ireland only; but to this there is a very remarkable exception, as they have been discovered in the Isle of Man, at a place called Ballaugh. The circumstances attending their discovery there are quite similar to those in Lecale in Down, except that the number of skeletons, compared with heads, is relatively greater in the former than in the Irish locality. The place where they are found in Man, which is in the north-west part of the island, just opposite Lecale, had formerly been a lake; and in maps of even two hundred and fifty years ago, large lakes are marked as being at this place where none now exist Another curious question is, How did so large an animal come to inhabit so small a place as the Isle of Man? Was it a separate creation? This is out of the question. Was it brought there by human intervention? This is nearly as improbable. Did it swim or travel on ice? This also seems an improbable conjecture. I think the circumstance is one of the proofs that this island was once united to Ireland, and not to England or Scotland.4 Besides the existence of the remains of the Irish elk, many other things nuite to confirm this conjecture. The inhabitants boar strong points of resemblance to the Irish; the zoology is identical; the absence of moles, toads, and all the serpent tribe, point it out as almost a part of Ireland; and the circumstance of the Irish hare being found in it, tends to make the resemblance still closer."
The epoch of the actual separation is, perhaps, not so very far distant as we might imagine. There is a current tradition both in Ireland and the Isle of Man, that in "the wars of the giants one took up a handful of earth which he throw at another, but missed his aim. The place from which the handful of earth was lifted be came Lough Neagh, and that at which it fell the Isle of Man."
In the topographical poem of O'Heerin reference is made to Man by way of comparison, -
"Is the plain of Manainn fairer ?"
In a poem contained in the book of Leacan it is stated of Baedan MeCairill, King of Ulster, - " It was by him that Manainn was cleared of the Galls (foreigners), so that its sovereignty belonged to the Ultonians from thence forward." Baedan died A.D. 580. (Cambrensis EversBs, Irish Celtic Soc., Dublin, 1848, vol. i, p. 165.) In the chapter of wonders con tained in the Irish version of Nennius we have, - " The wonders of Manann down here. The first wonder is a strand without a sea; the second is a ford which is far from the sea, and which fills when the tide flows, and decreases when the tide ebbs; the third is a stone which moves at night in Glenn Cindeun; and though it should be cast into the sea, or into a cataract, it would be found on the margin of the same valley."
In the enumeration of the various tributes payable by the inferior kings and chieftains to the King of Tara, as set forth in the Book of Rights, we have included "the fruits of Manann, a fine present." (Book of Rights, Celtic Soc., Dub., 1847, p. 9.)
Mananan Mac Lir, the supposed coloniser and first ruler of Man, or Manan, and from which he derives his name, was identical with the merchant or navigator Orbsen, so celebrated in Irish bardic history, and from whom Lough Orbsen (now Corrib in Galway), was named. He is thus introduced to our notice by the learned author of the Ogygia, - " The merchant Orbsen was remarkable for carrying ou a commercial intercourse between Ireland and Britain. He was commonly called Mananan Mac Lir, - that is, Mananan on account of his intercourse with the Isle of Man; and Mac Lir; i.e., sprung from the sea, because he was an expert diver; besides, he under stood the dangerous parts of harbours; and, from his prescience of the change of weather, always avoided tempests." (Ogygia, Dublin edit., 1793, p. 26.) The genealogy of Mananan is given in Keating. "Mananan, the son of Alladh, the son of Elathan, son of Dalboeth, son of Neidh, an immediate descendent of Neinedius, the progenitor of the Tuatha de Danans in Ireland; that weird and mystic colony who never, through the lapse of ages, have relinquished their dominion over the superstitions of the peasantry of Ireland; but who are still believed to rule the spirit or fairy land of Erin; to reign paramount in the lis, the cave, the mine; to occupy genii palaces in the deepest recesses of mountains, and under the deep waters of our lakes." Keating further states, the proper name of Orbsen was Mananan; that from him the lake was called, because when his grave was digging the lake broke forth. This myth respecting the breaking forth of lakes is quite common in Ireland. There is scarcely a sheet of water in the country that has not a tale relating the cause, or incident connected with its breaking forth. The formation of almost all the larger lakes is mentioned in the Annals.
In the time of O'Flaherty, the learned author of the Ogygia, Lough Corrib was then called Lough Orbsen. This was in the middle of the seventeenth century. In his work on West Connaught he thus refers to it, as well as to the field of Magh Ullin (now Moycullin), where Mananan, or Orbsen, was slain. "Gnobeg contains the parishes of Moycullin and Rahun. The three first parishes lie in length from Lough Orbsen to the Bay of Gaiway, and Rahun from the River of Galway to the same bay. The castle and manor of Moycullin, whence the barony and parish are named, hath Lough Lonon on the west; Tolokian, two castles next adjacent, on the north; and Lough Orbsen on the east. . . . Here Ullinn, grandchild of Nuadh (silver-hand), King of Ireland twelve hundred years before Christ's birth, overthrew in battle, and had the killing of, Orbsen Mac Alloid, commonly called Mananan (the Mankish man), Mac Lir (son of the sea), for his skill in seafaring. From Uillinn, Moycullin is named, - to wit, Magh-Ullin, the field of Ullin; and from Orbsen, Lough Orbsen, or the lake of Orbsen. Six miles from a great stone in that field (erected, perhaps, in memory of the same battle) is the town of Gaiway." (West Connanght, by the Irish Arch. Soc., Dublin, 1846,p. 54.) The corruption of the name Orbsen to Corrib is easy and evident, - Orbsen, Oreb, Orib, Corrib. Cormac MacCul lenain, king and bishop of Cashel A.D. 901, in his Glossary, thus notices this personage: "Manannan Mac Lir, a famous merchant who dwelt in the Isle of Man. He was the greatest navigator of this western part of the world, and used to presage good or bad weather from his observations of the heavens, and from the changes of the moon; wherefore the Scots, i.e., the Irish and Britons, gave him the title of 'god of the sea'. They also called him Mac Lir, that is, the son of the sea, and from him the Isle of Man had its name." (Ibid., p. 21.)
The name of this personage is seldom mentioned in the traditionary tales and folk-lore of Ireland without Druidic and fairy associations. He is generally esteemed a good genius, powerful in m gic spells and enchantments, usually exercised for benevolent purposes. He is sometimes represented as coming from Armenia, and as having returned thither after the introduction of Christianity. In some instances he is described as a Canaanite. Irish myths invariably point to the east, and more particularly single out those parts which were originally the seat of primaeval man. The countries bordering on the Caspian, Iran, Turan, Armenia, are localities from whence Irish romantic tradition brings her heroes and hero-gods, and to which she often sends them in search of adventures. Each division of Ireland had its fairy king. Mananan is stated to have ruled over the Ulster genii, Crop over those of Connaught, Don Firriun over those of Munster. The palace of Mananan was fabled to have been on the brink of a lake near Enniskeen, county of Monaghan.
In a curious historical tract entitled The Fate of the Sons of Tairinn, which describes the slavery imposed upon Nuadh of the Silver Hand and I~he Tuath de Danans by the Fomorians, or African pirates, as they are designated in Irish mythic history, and supposed by many learned antiquaries to indicate a colony of Carthaginian traders or adventurers who, at some period unascertained, frequented the coasts of Ireland for trade, and to whom are attributed the introduction of those curious leaf-shaped bronze swords so frequently found in Ire land as well as in the sister country, and which have also been found in great numbers on the field of Canna3 in Italy, the relics of that terrible battle fought between Hannibal and .A~milius. This tract contains the following passage in refer ence to Mananan, of which I give a translation from the fourth volume of the Ossianic Soc. Pub., edited by Mr. Nicholas O'Kearney, - " The king was thus situated: the race of the Fomorians imposed a heavy tribute upon the Tuath de Danans in his reign, a tax was levied upon the growing crops, and an unga (ingot) of gold was exacted upon the nose of every one of the Tuath de Danans each year, from Uisneach to Tara eastward. This tax was to be paid every year, and whosoever was unable to pay it, his nose was severed from his face. On a certain day Nuadh held a meeting on the Hill of Balar, which is now called Uisneach of Meath. They had not been long assembled there when they discovered a well-appointed host of people approaching them along the plain from the east; and a young man, whose countenance shone like the rising sun, marched at the head of this dense crowd of men. It was im possible to look him in the face, he was so lovely; and he was no other than Luwy the Long-Handed, the sword-exerciser, together with the fairy (enchanted) cavalcade, consisting of the sons of Mananan, his foster-brothers, from Caanan. They had remained but a short time there when they saw an ugly, ill- shaped party of people, namely, nine times nine men, who were the stewards of the Fomorians coming to receive the rents and taxes of the people of Ireland. And with these words Luwy arose, and having unsheathed the sword of Man anan, attacked them; and having cut and mangled eight times nine of their number, suffered the remaining nine to put them selves under the protection of the king of Ireland. 'I would kill you,' said Luwy, 'were it not that I prefer you should carry the tidings to the foreigners rather than send my own messen gers, lest they might be dishonoured."'
The Irish mythology, as well as that of the Greeks, is full of reference to weapons endued with supernatural powers: thus the sword of Mananan is frequently introduced in the legendary tales of the ancient Irish. In the volume for 1852 of the Trans. of the Kil. Arch. Soc., p. 32, we have an interesting chapter on folk-lore by Mr. Nicholas O'Kearney, in which he relates a mythic tale of Concovar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster, and of how he became possessed of the magic sword, spear, and shield of Cuillean, or Guillean, a weird smith, or the Vulcan of the the Isle of Man. The passage is as follows: "Cuillean, or Guil lean, himself was a very famous being that once resided in Isle of Man, and of so long-lived or mythic a nature as to be found living in all ages of pagan history; at all events he is represented to have lived at the time when Concovar Mac Nessa, afterwards king of Ulster, was a young man, who possessed little prospect of aggrandisements, except what he might win by his sword. Concovar being of an ambitious and enterprising nature, consulted the oracle of Cloghor, and was informed that he shonld proceed to the Isle of Man, and get Cuillean, a noted ceard, or worker in iron, to make a sword, spear, and shield for him; and that the baa dha (supernatural power possessed by them) would be instrumental in gaining him the sovereignty of Ulster. Concovar accordingly repaired to the Isle of Man, and prevailed on Cuillean to commence the work; but while awaiting its completion, he sauntered one morning along the shore, and in course of his walk met with a mermaid fast asleep on the beach. Concovar bound the syren, but she having awoke, and perceiving she was bound, besought him to liberate her; and to induce him to yield to her petition, she informed him that she was Teeval, the princess of the ocean; and promised, in case he caused Cuillean to form her representation on the shield, surrounded with this inscription, 'Teeval, princess of the ocean,' it would possess such extra ordinary powers that whenever he was about engaging his enemy in battle, and looked upon her figure on the shield, read the legend, and invoked her name, his enemies would diminish in strength, while he and his people would acquire a proportionate increase in theirs. Concovar had the shield made according to the advice of Teeval, and on his return to Ireland such extraordinary success attended his arms that he won the kingdom of Ulster. The king was not ungrateful, for he invited Cuillean to settle in Ulster, and bestowed on him the tract of land along the eastern coast, extending from. Glen Righe, or the Vale of Newry on the Neath, to Glas Neasa on the river of Annagasson, near Dun-eany on the south, which were the hounds of the ancient Cooley." This same personage flourishes in several other mythic tales. He is represented in the legend of the "Cattle Raid of Cooley" as inviting Concovar Mac Nessa to visit him at his residence, requesting the king not to bring with him his usual large retinue, excepting a few warriors, because he had no lands or patrimony to support them, relying solely on the produce of his hammer, anvil, and vice.
Mr. O'Kearney further states : - " This same Cuillean, or Guillean, as he is usually styled in popular tradition, resided in a cave on Slieve Gullian, and is still remembered with hor ror in the traditions of the peasantry; which traditions must have been derived from the notions concerning Guillean, or the form of religion with which he had been connected, incul cated by the first preachers of Christianity. There is in Irish a phrase, 'giolla Guillen;' i.e., the servant of Guillean, synony mous with 'an imp of the Devil,' which strongly warrants this inference." In this there are many points which identify Cuillean with Mananan Mac Lir; first, his intimate connection with the Isle of Man; secondly, his being a forger of super natural weapons; thirdly, his location in Ulster, where Man anan is said to have reigned over the provincial fairy kingdom; and in the immediate locality where Mananan is stated to have had his fairy palace. Cuillean, too, fell into disrepute among the Christians, as did Mananan.
In that exceedingly curious and mythological tale, the pursuit of Diarmid and Grainne, the particulars of which bear such a startling resemblance to many of the Grecian myths, we have the enchanted weapons of Mananan also introduced. When Diarmid, who answers to the Adonis of the Eastern fable, prepares for the hunt of the wild boar of Ben Gulban, Grainue entreats him to arm himself with the moralltach (sword) of Mananan; but he refuses to do so, and takes with him another weapon: the result is disastrous, and his death ensues. The passage is worth transcribing : - " The day came then with its full light, and he said, 'I will go to seek the hound whose voice I have heard since it is day.' 'Well, then,' said Grainne, 'take with thee the moralltach; that is, the sword of Mananan, and the Ga-dears (the red spear)"I will not said Diarmid; 'but I will take the Beag-alitach (the small fierce one), and the Ga-buie (yellow javelin) with me in in hand, and Mac-an-Chuill5 by a chain in my other hand."'
The wild boar then came up the face of the mountain with th Fenians after him. Diarmid slipped Mac-anChuill from his leash against him, and that profited him nothing for he dli not wait the wild boar, but fled before him. Diarmid said, "Woe to him that doeth not the counsel of a good wife; for Grainne bade me at early morn to-day to take with me the moralltach and the ga-dearg." Then Diarmid put his small white-coloured ruddy-nailed finger into the silken string of the ga-buidhe, and made a careful cast at the boar; so that he smote him in the fair middle of his race, and of his forehead. Nevertheless, he cut not a single bristle upon him, nor did he give him wound or scratch. Diarmid's courage was lessened at that; and thereupon he drew the beag-ahitacli from the sheath in which it was kept, and struck a heavy stroke there with upon the wild boar's back stoutly, and full bravely. Yet he cut not a single bristle upon him, but made two pieces of his sword. Then the wild boar made a furious spring upon Diarmid, so that he tripped him and made him fall headlong.
And when he was fallen to the earth, the boar made an eager, exceeding mighty spring upon him, and ripped out his bowels and his entrails, so that they fell about his legs. Howbeit, as he (the boar) was leaving the Tulach (hill), Diarmid made a triumphant cast of the hilt of the sword that remained in his hand, so that he dashed out his brains and left him dead with out life. Therefore, Rath-na4lAmrannt is the name of the place that is on the top of the mountain, from that time to this." The classical scholar will not here fail to observe the itrong resemblance between the death of Adonis and that of Diarmid. Venus, as we are infornied, was enamoured of Adonis, and used to meet him on Mount Libanus. Mars, envying his rival, assumed the shape of a wild boar, attacked him while hunting, gored him with his tusks in the groin, and killed Thin. In the Celtic myth, Grainne, the betrothed of Fion Mac Cumhal, becomes enainoured of Diarmid and elopes with him; he is pursued from place to place by his vengeful rival, and at last arrives in the neighbourhood of the mountain Ben Gulban, where he take up his abode; he goes forth upon a morning to hunt, when lie meets the wild boar (who, as in the classical legend, is a human being turned into a boar) by whom he is slain, as above described. Fion, his rival, comes on the scene while Diarmuid is in the agonies of death, who conjures him (by their former friendship, and by many acts of assistance and kindness shown to Fion) to bring him a draught of water from a certain magic fountain close by, which could arrest death, and restore Diarmid to his former strength and vigour. This Fion refuses, and his rival breathes his last. I shall be excused from digressing so much from the main subject of my paper, but the myth is so full of dramatic interest and of classical allusions, that I would recommend the perusal of this very ancient tale to the student of native mythology. It forms the third volume of the Ossianic Soc. Pnb., Dublin, 1857.
In an ancient MS., entitled "An T-Octar Gad; or, the Adventures of Seven Irish Champions in the East", Mananan is represented as instructing the Celtic hero, Cu- chullin, in the use of the ga-bolg or sting, which he extracted from a serpent that infested Loch-na-Nia, near the fort of Mananan in Ar niduia; this myth would appear to have some bearing on the use of poisoned weapons among the ancient Irish. In a very curious and ancient tract, entitled "The Dialogue of the Sages," amid which is found in The Book of Lisnmore (a vellum MS. compiled in the fourteenth century from more ancient sources), we have several passages referring to the use of such deadly arms, from which I extract the following "And valiant Caol - na-Neavami, with a lucky poisoned spear that Finn had, amid this was the venom that was on it, for it never made an erring cast from the hand, and it never wounded a person when thrown from the hand that would not be dead before the end of a moment." MS. translation by Mr. Joseph Long, of Cork.
It is the general opinion of Irish antiquaries that Mananan Mac Lir was a real personage famous for his exploits as a sea- rover and coloniser, that he ultimately became deified as the Irish Neptune, or God of the Sea. It is true, we have him represented under different names, as Orbsen, Mananan, and Cuillean; that different attributes and occupations are ascribed to him. He is sometimes a warrior, a trader, a navigator, a forger of magic weapons, a potent magician or Druid, so was also the Grecian deity; he assisted his brother Jupiter in his military expeditions; he helped Laomedon to build time walls of Troy; he was a famous ship-builder, and was the inventor of chariot-races, and had a great variety of names, as Consus, Enosmchthon, Hippius, Soter, etc. Mananan is represented as enveloping the Isle of Man in mists to protect it from invaders; - a stratagem, said to have been resorted to by the Tuath-de-Danans, when the Milesians invaded Ireland. The expelling of serpents and demons from Ireland is now understood to signify the overthrow of serpent-worship and other forms of Paganism which prevailed in that country when Christianity was introduced. In the historical romance of the "Children of Lir," we have also a reference to the overthrow of the wor ship of the Irish sea god. In the myth, the children of Lir are represented as having been transformed into swans (i.e., devoted to the service of the sea god) by their step-mother, a potent Druidess, and that they remained in this state until the introduction of the faith, when they were restored to their natural forms. The following translation of a passage from this legend will be found in the first volume of the Ossianic Soc. Pub., p. 101, n. : - " The children of Lir remained in that condition a long time, until the time of the faith of Christ, and until Patrick, son of Arpluinn, came into Ireland, and until Mocomog* came to Inis Gluair of Brendan. And the night that Mocomog came to the said island, the children of Lir heard the sound of the matin bell near them. They trembled violently, and started through excessive dread upon nearing it. 'What, my dear brothers, has troubled you?' inquired Fionguala. 'We know not,' replied they, 'canst thou inform us what that unusual detestable sound which we heard is?' 'It is the sound of the bell of Mochomog,' replied Fionguala; 'and it is that which will liberate you from suffering, and save you from adversity with God's will.'"
Angus Oge, or the immortal, was another name for Mananan. Tradition states that he remained in Ireland until the time of St. Cohomba, that he endeavoured to be reconciled to the church; but, failing in his efforts, he retired to his original country, Armenia. This myth evidently points to a struggle between Paganism and Christianity, which eventuated in the triumph of the latter.
In vol. 3 of the Ossianic Soc. Pub, will be found a curious romance of the adventures of Cormac Art in the fairy palace of Mananan; the tale is full of allegory, and represents the latter as a wise and benevolent being inculcating lessons of wisdom, and bestowing valuable gifts of a supernatural character on mortals.
This tract is so illustrative of the subject in hand, that I subjoin the English translation in full
"Of a time that Cormac, the son of Art, the son of Con of the hundred battles, that is, the arch-king of Erin, was in Liathdruim, he saw a youth upon the green before his dun, having in his hand a glittering fairy branch, with nine apples of red gold upon it. And this was the manner of that branch that, when any one shook it, wounded men, and women with child, would be lulled to sleep by the sound of the very sweet fairy music which those apples uttered; and another property that branch had, that is to say, that no one upon earth would bear in mind any want, woe, or weariness of soul when that branch was shaken for him, and whatever evil might have be fallen any one, he would not remember it at the shaking of the branch. Cormac said to the youth, 'Is that branch thine own.' 'It is indeed mine,' said the youth.' 'Wouldst thou sell it,' asked Cormac. 'I would sell it,' quoth the youth; 'for I never had any thing that I would not sell.' 'What dost thou require for it,' said Cormac. 'The award of mine own mouth,' said the youth. 'That thou shalt receive from me,' said Cormac, 'and say on thy award.' 'Thy wife, thy son, and thy daughter,' answered the youth; 'that is to say, Eithne, Cairbre, and Ailbhe.' 'Thou shalt get them all,' said Cormac. After that the youth gives up the branch, and Cormac takes it to his own house to Ailbhe, to Eithne, and to Cairbre. 'That is a fair treasure thou hast,' said Ailbhe. 'No wonder,' answered Cormac; 'for I gave a good price for it.' 'What didst thou give for it, or in exchange for it,' asked Ailbhe. 'Cairbre, Eithne, and thyself, O Ailbhe.' 'That is a pity,' quoth Eithne '(yet it is not true) : for we think that there is not upon the face of the earth that treasure for which thou wouldst give us.' 'I pledge my word,' said Cormac, 'that I have given you for this treasure.' Sorrow and heaviness of heart filled them when they knew that to be true, and Eithne said, 'it is too hard a bargain (to give) us three, for any branch in the world.' When Cormac saw that grief and heavi ness of heart came upon them, he shakes the branch amongst them; and when they heard the soft, sweet music of the branch, they thought no longer upon any evil or care that had ever befallen thcmn, and they went forth to meet the youth.
'Here,' said Cormac; 'thou hmast the price thou didst ask for this branch.' 'Well hast thou fulfilled thy promise,' said the youth, 'and receive (wishes for) victory, and a blessing for the sake of thy truth.' And he left Cormac wishes for life, and health, and he and his company went their ways. Cormac came to his house, and when that news was heard throughout Erin, loud cries of weeping, and of muourning, were made in every quarter of it, and in Liathdruim above all. When Cormac heard the loud cries in Leamhair, he shook the branch among them, so that there was no longer any grief or heavi ness of heart upon any one.
"He continued thus for the space of that year, until Cormac said, 'It is a year to-day since my wife, my son, and my daughter were taken fromn me, and I will follow them by the same path as they took.'
"Then Cormac went forth to look for the way by which he had seen the youth depart, and a dark magical mist rose be fore him, and he chanced to come upon a wonderful marvellous plain. That plain was thus: there was there a wondrous very great host of horsemen, and the work at which they were was, the covering-in of a house with the feathers of foreign birds; and when they had put covering upon one half of the house, they used to go off to seek birds' feathers for the others; and, as for that half of the house upon which they had put covering, they used not to find a single feather on it when they returned.
"After that Cormac had been a long time gazing at them in this plight, he thus spoke, 'I will no longer gaze at you; for I perceive that you will be toiling at that from the beginning to the end of the world.
"Cormac goes his way, and he was wandering over the plain until he saw a strange, foreign-looking youth walking the plain, and his employment was this: he used to drag a large tree out of the ground, and to break it between the bottom and the top, and he used to make a large fire of it, and to go himself to seek another tree, and when he came back again he would not find before him a scrap of the first tree that was not burned, and used up. Cormac was for a great space gazing upon him in that plight, and at last he said, 'I indeed will go away from thee henceforth; for were I for ever gazing upon thee, thon wouldst be so at the end of all.'
"Cormac after that begins to walk the plain, until he saw three immense wells on the border of the plain, and those wells were thus: they had three heads in them (i.e., one in each). Cormac drew near to the well next to him, and the head that was in that well was thus: a stream was flowing into its mouth, and two streams were flowing from or out of it. Cormac proceeds to the second well; and the head that was in that well was thus: a stream was flowing into it, and another stream flowing out of it. He proceeds to the third well, and the head that was in that one was thus: three streams were flow ing into its month, and one stream only flowing out cf it. Great marvel seized Cormac hereupon, and he said, 'I will be no longer gazing upon you; for I should never find any man to tell me your histories, and I think that I should find good sense in your meanings if I understood them.' And the time of the day was then noon. The King of Erin goes his ways, and he had not been long walking when he saw a very great field before him and a house in the middle of the field. And Cormac drew near the house and entered into it, and the King of Erin greeted (those that were within). A very tall couple with clothes of many colours that were within, answered him, and they bade him stay; 'whoever thou art, O youth; for it is now no time for thee to be travelling on foot.' Cormac, the son of Art, sits down hereupon, and he was right glad to get hospitality for that night.
"'Rise, O man of the house,' said the woman; 'there is a fair and comely wanderer by us, and how knowest thou but that he is some hononrable noble of the men of the world, and if thou hast one kind of food or meat better than another, let it be brought to me.'
"The youth upon this arose, and he came back to them in this fashion; that is, with a huge wild boar upon his back, and a log in his hand, and he cast down the log and the swine upon the floor, and said, 'There ye have meat, and cook it for yourselves.' 'How should I do that,' asked Cormac. 'I will teach you that,' said the youth; 'that is tp say, to split this great log which I have, and to make four pieces of it, and to put down a quarter of the boar and a quarter of a log under it, and to tell a true story, and the quarter of the boar will be cooked.' 'Tell the first story thyself,' said Cormac; 'for the two should fairly tell the story for the one.' 'Thou speakest rightly,' quoth the youth, 'and methiuks that thou hast the eloquence of a prince, and I will tell thee a story to begin with. That swine that I brought,' he went on, 'I have but seven pigs of them, and I could feed the world with them; for the pig that is killed of them, you have but to put its bones into the sty again, and it will be found alive upon the morrow.' That story was true, and the quarter of the pig was cooked.
"'Tell thou a story now, O woman of the house!' said the youth. 'I will,' quoth she, 'and do thou put down a quarter of the wild boar, and a quarter of the log nuder it,' so it was done. 'I have seven white cows,' said she, 'and they fill the seven keives with milk every day, and I give my word that they would give as much milk as would satisfy them to the men of the whole world were they upon the plain drinking it.' The story was true, and the quarter of the pig was therefore cooked. 'If your stories be true,' said Cormac, 'thou indeed art Mananan, and she is your wife, for no one upon the face of the earth possesses those treasures but only Mananan, for it was to Tir Tairrngire he went to seek that woman, and he got those seven cows with her, and he coughed upon them until he learned (the wonderful powers of) their milking, that is to say, that they would fill seven keives at one time.' 'Full wisely hast thou told us that, O youth,' said the man of the house, 'and tell a story for thy own quarter now.' 'I will,' said Cormac, 'and do thou lay a quarter of the log under the cauldron until I tell thee a true story.' So it was done, and Cormac said, 'I indeed am upon a search, for it is a year - this day that my wife, mny son, and my .daughters were borne away from me.' 'Who took them from thee ?' .asked the man of the house. 'A youth that came to me,' said Cormac, 'having in his hand a fairy branch, and I conceived a great wish for it, so that I granted him the award of his own mouth for it, and he exacted from me my word to fulfil that; now the award that he pronounced against me was, my wife, my son, and my daughter, to wit, Eithne, Cairbre, and Ailbhe.' 'If what thou sayest be true,' said the man of the house, 'thou indeed art Cormac, son of Art, son of Conn of the Hundred Battles.' 'Truly I am,' quotlm Cormac, 'and it is in search of those I am now.' That story was true, and the quarter of the pig was cooked. 'Eat thy meal now,' said the young man. 'I never ate food,' said Cor mac, 'having only two people in my company.' 'Wouldst thou eat it with three others, O Cormac,' asked the young man. 'If they were dear to me I would,' said Cormac. The man of the house arose and opened the nearest door of the dwelling, and (went and) brought in the three whom Cormac sought, and then the courage and exultation of Cormac-rose.
"After that Mananan came to him in his proper form, and said thus: 'I it was who took those three away from thee, and I it was who gave thee that branch, and it was in order to bring thee to this house that I took them from thee, and there is your meat now and eat food,' said Mananan. 'I would do so,' said Cormac, 'if I could learn the wonders that I have seen to-day.' 'Thou shalt learn them,' said Mananan. 'And I it was that caused thee to go towards them that thou mightest see them. The host of horsemen that appeared to thee covering in the house with birds' feathers, which, according as they had covered half of the house, used to disappear fromn it, and they seekiug birds' feathers for the rest of it - that is a comparison which is applied to poets and to people that seek a fortune, for when they go out, all that they leave behind them in their houses is spent, and so they go on for ever. The young man whom thou sawest kindling the fire, and who used to break the tree between top and bottom, and who used to find it consumed whilst he was away seeking for another tree; what are represented by that, are those who distribute food whilst every one else is being served, they themselves getting it ready, and every one else being enjoying the profit thereof. The wells which thou sawest in which were the heads, that is a comparison which is applied to the three that are in the world. These are they, that is to say
"That head which has one stream flowing into it, and one stream flowing out of it, is the man who gives the goods of the world as he gets them.
"That head which thou sawest with one stream flowing into it, and two streams flowing out of it, the meaning of that is the man who gives more than he gets of the goods of the world.
"The head which thou sawest with three streams flowing into its mouth, and one stream flowing out of it, that is the man who gets much and gives little, and he is the worst of the three. And now eat thy meal, 0 Cormac, said Mananan.
"After that Cormac, Cairbre, Ailbhe, and Eithne sat dowmi, and a table-cloth was spread before them. 'That is a full precious thing before thee, 0 Cormac,' said Mananan, 'for there is no food, however delicate, that shall be demanded of it, but it shall be had without doubt.' 'That is well,' quoth Cormac. After that, Mananan thrust his hand into his girdle and brought out a goblet and ~et it upon his palm. 'It is one of the virtues of this cup,' said Mananami, 'that when a false story is told, before it, it makes four pieces of it, and when a true story is related before it, it will be whole again.' 'Let that be proved,' said Cormac. 'It shall be done,' said Mananan. 'This woman that I took from thee she has had another husband since I brought her with mue.'
Then there were four pieces made of the goblet. 'That is a falsehood,' said the wife of Mananan. 'I say that they have not seen woman or man since they left thee, but their three selves.' That story was true, and the goblet was joined together again. 'Those are very precious things that thou hast, O Mananan,' said Cormac. 'They would be good for thee to have,' said Mananan. 'Therefore they shall all three be thine, to wit, the goblet, the branch, and the table-cloth, in consideration of thy walk, and of thy journey this day; and eat thy meal now, for were there a host and a multitude by thee thou shouldst find no scarcity in this place. And I greet you kindly as many as you are, for it was I that worked magic upon you, so that ye might be with me tonight in friendship.'
"He eats his meal after that, and that meal was good, for they thought not of any meat, but they got it upon the table cloth, nor of any drink, but they got it in the cup, and they returned great thanks for that to Mananan. Howbeit, when they had eaten their meal, that is to say, Cormac, Eithne, Ailbhe, and Cairbre, a couch was prepared for them, and they went to slumber and sweet sleep, and where they rose upon the mnorrow was in the pleasant Liathdruim, with their table-cloth, their cup, and their branch. Thus far then the wandering of Cormac, and how he got his branch." (Publications of the Ossianic Soc., v. iii.)
Many other notices of Mananan Mac Lir will be found scattered through the pages of Irish legendary lore.
N.B. - It is stated in the above Memoir that the Isle of Man derived its name from "Mananan Mac Lir". It appears, however, to be more correct to say that he got his name from the island with which he was so intimately connected. For we must remember that there was another Mona or Man, with which he had no connection whatever, viz., Anglesea.
It has been observed in the first volume of the Manx Society, page 140, that the two Monas most probably derived their name from their reputed holy character, as the "Sedes Druidarum", the abode of the Holy Wise Men, and that the name has the same connection with the Sanscrit root, Man, in reference to religious knowledge, as our word Monk; so also Moonshee and the names of ancient lawgivers, as Manu, son of Brahma, Menu, Minos, and Menes. (Editor, J. G. C.) ______________
1 Arran, Islay, and Rathlin.
2 The Isle of Man was governed hy princes from North Wales for the space of four centuries. The first was Maelgwyn, who conquered the island A.D. 525, and the last, Anarawd ap Roderic, who died AD. 913. (J. R. 0.)
3 This statement requires correction. Many examples have been found in England: in caves, as in Kent's Hole; in peat bogs, in Lancashire; at Hilgay, Norfolk; at Walton in Essex; and in an oyster-bed at Happisburgh. See Owen's History of British Fossil Mammals and Birds. The first perfect specimen was found near Ballaugh, Isle of Man. (Editor, J. G. C.)
4 There is just as distinct proof that it was united to England and Scotland. See Memoir by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, "On the Area of the Irish Sea", Vol. i, Edinbro' New Philosophical Journal. (Editor.)
5 "Mac-an-Chuill" (the son of the hazel), a favourite hound of Diarinid's
6 That is, "The rath of the swordhilt."
7 There were three saints named Mocomog, all disciples of St. Carthogh of Lismore, who flourished in the seventh century. The personage men tioned above was prob~ bly the celebrated St. Nocomog, or Pulcherius, of Liathinore, who died A.D. 655.