Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 49

Lugh was the father, by the Milesian maiden Dectera, of Cuchulain, the most heroic figure in Irish legend, in whose story there is evidently a strong element of the solar myth.94

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Midir the Proud

Midir the Proud is a son of the Dagda. His fairy palace is at Bri Leith, or Slieve Callary, in Co. Longford. He frequently appears in legends dealing partly with human, partly with Danaan personages, and is always represented as a type of splendour in his apparel and in personal beauty. When he appears to King Eochy on the Hill of Tara he is thus described:95

It chanced that Eochaid Airemm, the King of Tara, arose upon a certain fair day in the time of summer; and he ascended the high ground of Tara96 to behold the plain of Breg; beautiful was the colour of that plain, and there was upon it excellent blossom glowing with all hues that are known. And as the aforesaid Eochy looked about and around him, he saw a young strange warrior upon the high ground at his side. The tunic that the warrior wore was purple in colour, his hair was of a golden yellow, and of such length that it reached to the edge of his shoulders. The eyes of the young warrior were lustrous and grey; in the one hand he held a fine pointed spear, in the other a shield with a white central boss, and with gems of gold upon it. And Eochaid held his peace, for he knew that none such had been in Tara on the night before, and the gate that led into the Liss had not at that time been thrown open.97
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Lir and Mananan

Lir, as Mr. O'Grady remarks, “appears in two distinct forms. In the first he is a vast, impersonal presence commensurate with the sea; in fact, the Greek Oceanus. In the second, he is a separate person dwelling invisibly on Slieve Fuad,” in Co. Armagh. We hear little of him in Irish legend, where the attributes of the sea-god are mostly conferred on his son, Mananan.

This deity is one of the most popular in Irish mythology. He was lord of the sea, beyond or under which the Land of Youth or Islands of the Dead were supposed to lie; he therefore was the guide of man to this country. He was master of tricks and illusions, and owned all kinds of magical possessions—the boat named Ocean-sweeper, which obeyed the thought of those who sailed in it and went without oar or sail, the steed Aonbarr, which could travel alike on sea or land, and the sword named The Answerer, which no armour could resist. White-crested waves were called the Horses of Mananan, and it was forbidden (tabu) for the solar hero, Cuchulain, to perceive them—this indicated the daily death of the sun at his setting in the western waves. Mananan wore a great cloak which was capable of taking on every kind of colour, like the widespread field of the sea as looked on from a height; and as the protector of the island of Erin it was said that when any hostile force invaded it they heard his thunderous tramp and the flapping of his mighty cloak as he marched angrily round and round their camp at night. The Isle of Man, seen dimly from the Irish coast, was supposed to be the throne of Mananan, and to take its name from this deity.