From Lady Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men, (1904).
Part I Book IV: Call to Connla
AND it is likely it was Manannan sent his messenger for Connla of the Red Hair the time he went away out of Ireland, for it is to his country Connla was brought; and this is the way he got the call.
It chanced one day he was with his father Conn, King of Team-hair, on the Hill of Uisnach, and he saw a woman having wonderful clothing coming towards him. “Where is it you come from?” he asked her. “I come,” she said, “from Tir-nam-Beo, the Land of the Ever-Living Ones, where no death comes. We use feasts that are lasting,” she said, “and we do every kind thing without quarrelling, and we are called the people of the Sidhe.” “Who are you speaking to, boy?” said Conn to him then, for no one saw the strange woman but only Connla. “He is speaking to a high woman that death or old age will never come to,” she said. “I am asking him to come to Magh Mell, the Pleasant Plain where the triumphant king is living, and there he will be a king for ever without sorrow or fret. Come with me, Connla of the Red Hair,” she said, “of the fair freckled neck and of the ruddy cheek; come with me, and your body will not wither from its youth and its comeliness for ever.”
They could all hear the woman’s words then, though they could not see her, and it is what Conn said to Coran his Druid: “Help me, Coran, you that sing spells of the great arts. There is an attack made on me that is beyond my wisdom and beyond my power, I never knew so strong an attack since the first day I was a king. There is an unseen figure fighting with me; she is using her strength against me to bring away my beautiful son; the call of a woman is bringing him away from the hands of the king.”
Then Coran, the Druid, began singing spells against the woman of the Sidhe, the way no one would hear her voice, and Connla could not see her any more. But when she was being driven away by the spells of the Druid, she threw an apple to Connla.
And through the length of a month from that time, Connla used no other food nor drink but that apple, for he thought no other food or drink worth the using. And for all he ate of it, the apple grew no smaller, but was whole all the while. And there was great trouble on Connla on account of the woman he had seen.
And at the end of a month Connla was at his father’s side in Magh Archomnim, and he saw the same woman coming towards him, and it is what she said: “It is a high place indeed Connla has among dying people, and death before him. But the Ever-Living Ones,” she said, “are asking you to take the sway over the people of Tethra, for they are looking at you every day in the gatherings of your country among your dear friends.”
When Conn, the king, heard her voice, he said to his people: “Call Coran, the Druid to me, for I hear the sound of the woman’s voice again.” But on that she said: “O Conn, fighter of a hundred, it is little love and little respect the wonderful tribes of Traig Mor, the Great Strand, have for Druids; and where its law comes, it scatters the spells on their lips.”
Then Conn looked to his son Connla to see what he would say, and Connla said: “My own people are dearer to me than any other thing, yet sorrow has taken hold of me because of this woman.” Then the woman spoke to him again, and it is what she said: “Come now into my shining ship, if you will come to the Plain of Victory. There is another country it would not be worse for you to look for; though the bright sun is going down, we shall reach to that country before night. That is the country that delights the mind of every one that turns to me. There is no living race in it but women and girls only.”
And when the woman had ended her song, Connla made a leap from his people into the shining boat, and they saw him sailing away from them far off and as if in a mist, as far as their eyes could see. It is away across the sea they went, and they have never come back again, and only the gods know where was it they went.
Land of Legends
by Stephen Lewis Ingham Pettit
Some say in the distant dawn the giant hand
of Finn MacCumhal* once hurled this land –
(a tiny clod of earth, to him)
and missed his Scottish foe;
so here it lies, an island given birth
by superhuman force, between old kingdoms.
But how grand, to us, this realm of mountain shapes
and sunset skies and racing shadows!
A place of faery pastures,
of golden gorse,
of cairns of olden tyme and tales of long ago.
Yet we who dwell here know
we set our feet where once immortals trod,
who left their magic here. Here –
is the sometime throne of the ocean god,
by which his cloak of mists invisible became
a plaything of his starry will- Here,
every mountain rill
whispers enchantment still,
murmurs the old god’s name.
2nd June, 1973 (*Pronounced MacCool)
by Coyote Bird’s Flame
Hail Manannan, Son of the Sea,
Father of mist and tender of dreams,
Lord of all worlds, I call unto Thee
Lend a branch of silver to me.
With golden apples and delicate chime
To part the veil ‘tween space and time.
O Thou who art our guide divine
Lead us true, our imbas to find.
There is a well nine hazel trees ring,
that cast their fruits in the sacred spring,
Where salmon swim and silver birds sing
Five streams from there Thy wisdom do bring.
If imbas you seek for song and for spell
Drink ye deep from both streams and well.
Now travel by star, by wave, and by swell
In Tir na n’Og does Manannan dwell.
With Manannan’s branch assured is our way.
We of good heart we never shall stray.
From dusk til dawn, tween night and day
Lead ever true, for this we do pray.
From isle to isle and from shore to shore,
We wind a path through the ancient lore.
From river to stream, from loch to moor,
O Son of the Sea, Thy mist we adore.
They’ve found the statue!!
Now, let’s hope they can find the fuckers who did it!
Here’s the link.
I’d write more, but I’m sick for the third time this year. Yes. Sick thrice in the period of two months. Blech. This cold isn’t as bad as the first and definitely not as bad as the stomach bug, but still.
I will finish out the month of Manannan posts, so stay tuned!
From Lady Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men (1904).
Part I Book IV: Cliodna’s Wave
AND it was in the time of the Fianna of Ireland that Ciabban of the Curling Hair, the king of Ulster’s son, went to Manannan’s country.
Ciabhan now was the most beautiful of the young men of the world at that time, and he was as far beyond all other kings’ sons as the moon is beyond the stars. And Finn liked him well, but the rest of the Fianna got to be tired of him because there was not a woman of their women, wed or unwed, but gave him her love. And Finn had to send him away at the last, for he was in dread of the men of the Fianna because of the greatness of their jealousy.
So Ciabhan went on till he came to the Strand of the Cairn, that is called now the Strand of the Strong Man, between Dun Sobairce and the sea. And there he saw a curragh, and it having a narrow stern of copper. And Ciabhan got into the curragh, and his people said: “Is it to leave Ireland you have a mind, Ciabhan?” “It is indeed,” he said, “for in Ireland I get neither shelter nor protection.” He bade farewell to his people then, and he left them very sorrowful after him, for to part with him was like the parting of life from the body.
And Ciabhan went on in the curragh, and great white shouting waves rose up about him, every one of them the size of a mountain; and the beautiful speckled salmon that are used to stop in the sand and the shingle rose up to the sides of the curragh, till great dread came on Ciabhan, and he said: “By my word, if it was on land I was I could make a better fight for myself.”
And he was in this danger till he saw a rider coming towards him on a dark grey horse having a golden bridle, and he would be under the sea for the length of nine waves, and he would rise with the tenth wave, and no wet on him at all. And he said: “What reward would you give to whoever would bring you out of this great danger?” “Is there anything in my hand worth offering you?” said Ciabhan. “There is,” said the rider, “that you would give your service to whoever would give you his help.” Ciabhan agreed to that, and he put his hand into the rider’s hand.
With that the rider drew him on to the horse, and the curragh came on beside them till they reached to the shore of Tir Tairngaire, the Land of Promise, They got off the horse there, and came to Loch Luchra, the Lake of the Dwarfs, and to Manannan’s city, and a feast was after being made ready there, and comely serving-boys were going round with smooth horns, and playing on sweet-sounding harps till the whole house was filled with the music.
Then there came in clowns, long-snouted, long-heeled, lean and bald and red, that used to be doing tricks in Manannan’s house. And one of these tricks was, a man of them to take nine straight willow rods, and to throw them up to the rafters of the house, and to catch them again as they came down, and he standing on one leg, and having but one hand free. And they thought no one could do that trick but themselves, and they were used to ask strangers to do it, the way they could see them fail.
So this night when one of them had done the trick, he came up to Ciabhan, that was beyond all the Men of Dea or the Sons of the Gael that were in the house, in shape and in walk and in name, and be put the nine rods in his hand. And Ciabhan stood up and be did the feat before them all, the same as if he had never learned to do any other thing.
Now Gebann, that was a chief Druid in Manannan’s country, had a daughter, Cliodna of the Fair Hair, that had never given her love to any man. But when she saw Ciabhan she gave him her love, and she agreed to go away with him on the morrow.
And they went down to the landing-place and got into a curragh, and they went on till they came to Teite’s Strand in the southern part of Ireland. It was from Teite Brec the Freckled the strand got its name, that went there one time for a wave game, and three times fifty young girls with her, and they were all drowned in that place. And as to Ciabban, he came on shore, and went looking for deer, as was right, under the thick branches of the wood; and he left the young girl in the boat on the strand.
But the people of Manannan’s house came after them, having forty ships. And Iuchnu, that was in the curragh with Cliodna, did treachery, and he played music to her till she lay down in the boat and fell asleep. And then a great wave came up on the strand and swept her away.
And the wave got its name from Cliodna of the Fair Hair, that will be long remembered.
Sonnet: Prayer to Manannan
by Bard Oskan
God of the sea, your truth in laughter rings
the sage’s staff and triton held upraised
your clever guises humbled hearts of kings
and from the meek inspired resounding praise
resplendent crane of princely scarlet brow
together with your steeds accomplice make
lifegiving flesh of salmon and of sow
are gracious yours to give and ours to take
lend strength to me, great father of the sea
a wiser soul and kinder I shall be