3 thoughts on “Celtic Source: Manannán mac Lir

  1. What an excellent post! The amount of research you put into your work is much appreciated! I just found these and am going through your back catalogues.

    John Carey in “Ireland and the Grail” argues that the Welsh Manawydan and Bran comes from Irish influences very late, after Christianization. As an – amateur – I’m not sure he makes a strong case. The theory in the book is that Irish texts were the main inspiration for the Holy Grail legend, so he needs to show Irish influence on Welsh texts that subsequently influenced French texts about the Grail. As a complete amateur I’m still skeptical after reading. Seems there is a long and broad history of the Manannan figure all over the islands. What do you think?

    If Manawydan/Manannan was a deity, what do you think his roles were? Any shocking speculations?

    Thanks for the great vids!

    1. Patrick Simms-Williams touches on many of the same ideas in his book:


      I haven’t followed through on all of his arguments, but he’s well qualified to have solid opinion.

      Manawydan is a mystery. There is a question I always arrive at, which is how does our modern concept of divinity obscure how such a figure sat in the wider mythos of the Celts at a certain point in history. He is a sacred king, but also a teacher, in Wales at least a human with his feet in the supernatural realm. My guess is that this type of divinity is a peculiarly early medieval version of an earlier Iron Age concept, and yet not quite the fictional creation of late medieval culture. Somewhere in between. Developing a theory along those lines would serve us well when we try to consider traditional Celtic notions of divinity, and Manawydan in particular.

      Thanks for your excellent answers to the course questions so far, by the way. A real pleasure to read them.

      All the best

      1. Thank you for pointing out the book, if it comes with your recommendation I’ll have to try to read it.

        I think that that’s a good point about how modern perceptions obscure what the Celts might have really believed. Maybe classical myth where the gods had very defined roles is to blame. Contrast the Greek gods to that to the boundless roles of the Germanic pantheon, such as Odin, god of war and afterlife and learning and sacrifice.

        Thank you for the compliment, exciting to know you approve of my answers! I’m having a lot of fun and you’ve been a great instructor, can’t wait for more

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: