The Old Corpse Road Folklore Collective
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Pronounced "manan-awn mak lir" (Barinthus) Manannan Mac Lir is one of the most popular deities in Celtic mythology. He is Lord of the sea and of the three great waves of Ireland. He was the son of the mystical god Lir and and the husband of Fand. His Welsh equivalent was Manawydan ap Llyr. Sons were Ilbhreach and Gaiar.
He was also a poet and seer, who received his training from an old bard named Finnegas on the banks of the river Boyne. During this time we are told Fionn received the wisdom of the great salmon of knowledge that swam in the river. Fionn also received the gift of wisdom from a sacred well of the goddess. The three daughters who guarded the well threw some of the well water at Fionn to prevent him approaching. In doing so the water went into his mouth and so he gained the knowledge of the well. Fionn was the keeper of many weapons, each of them having some magical quality, in true Celtic style. His banner was called the Dealb Greine ('sun shape') for it had the likeness of the sun.
"Amergin" is the word as it has been written in English, but the actual spelling of this name is "Amhairghin". It means "Birth of Song". According to legend, Amhairghin was one of the leaders of the "Men of Míl", who battled the Tuatha Dé Danann (or the Faery Clan) for possession of Ireland. As you can see for yourself, the Song of Amergin is, in itself, a self-claiming by Amergin of this island, as well as a challenge to the Tuatha Dé Danann, who were considered to be the gods.
Ancient Irish history and legends have come down to us through history thanks to the diligent chronicling of the early Christian monks. The best record of the rich Celtic mythological tradition is contained in the four cycles drawn up by twelfth century Christian scribes:
Tir Nan Og is the land to which the Irish faeries known as Tuatha de Danann fled when their lands were taken by the Milesians. In Tir Nan Og they spend their days feasting, gaming, love-making and partaking of beautiful music. The faeries can even enjoy the thrill of battle, for anyone slain is resurected the following day. It is the paradise that mortals can only dream of.
On a certain day when Finn mac Cumaill rose at early morn in Almu, in Leinster, and sat upon the grass-green plain, having neither servant nor attendant with him, there followed him two of his people; that is, Oisin the son of Minn, and Diorruing the son of Dobar O' Baoiscne. Oisin Spoke, and what he said was:
"What is the cause of this early rising of thine, O Finn?" said he.
Cú Chulainn is confronted by swans once again as a man, at the great feast of Samhain, which is being celebrated by the Ulster men beside a loch. A flock of beautiful birds alights on the water, Cú Chulainn demonstrates his skill by capturing all of them and giving them to the women, who desire to wear a bird on each shoulder. Only Cú Chulainn’s wife does not get any birds and she is greatly incensed by this. Her husband promises her two of the finest swans he can find.
Ó hÓgáin gives an account of the Mythological Cycle, a collective term applied to the stories in Irish literature which describe the doings of otherworld characters. The central theme was concerned with the successive invasions of Ireland by supernatural clans. These series of invasions are described in the Lebor Gabála or Book of Invasions.These stories do not form as strong or cohesive a narrative tradition as do the Ulster and Fenian Cycles, but they all center on the Túatha Dé Danan
CUCHULAIN, THE BOYHOOD DEEDS OF
Among the most striking of the many narratives dealing with CuChulain is a group of episodes from his childhood. The incidents in the selection brought in Cross and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES not only serve to illustrate his precocity, a trait which is widespread among heroes of the folk, but also to exemplify the conditions of child-fosterage among the ancient Irish. This and other tales of CuChu-lain's youth are incorporated in the great Ulster epic 'The Cattle-Raid of Cooley', where they are represented as told to King Ailill and Queen Medb of Connacht by several of the Ulster exiles enlisted in the Connacht army. They form a body of tradition which was probably old at the time when the epic was composed.
This is considered by some to be older than the tales of the Ultonian (Ulster / Red Branch) cycle, as the main occupation is that of hunting. The Fenian Cycle, or Ossianic cycle, recounts the exploits of Finn Mac Cumhail , whose name means 'the Fair One', and his companions and deals with the cult and institution of warriors, The Fenians, or Fianna.