Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Mists of Manannán Mac Lír.

As a child I spent many summers living with relatives on the Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin,
and was told stories about Mannin by my Grandmother, who was a native Manx speaker.
The one I remember most clearly told how he would spread his cloak of mist and magic across the island to conceal it from invaders, especially my Grandmother stressed, the British monarchy!
During the past couple of days we have been marooned in a sea of mist and silence and I have
been inspired by her stories and the weather to post my painting of Manannán.
I recently stumbled across As Manx as the Hills on Facebook and also discovered the wonderful
statue of Manannán by the sculptor John Darren Sutton.
His god stands on Binevenagh Mountain, Binn Fhoibhne, Co. Derry overlooking Lough Foyle.
Local tradition tells of the presence of  Manannán in the Lough and it was believed that his spirit 
was released during fierce storms. 
My painting of him illustrates him as a god of the sea, water, mists and magics.

More about my painting - HERE

Flor, the model for my painting Manannán.

1 The Isle of Man which takes it's name from Manannán can be seen on the horizon. 

Above the island flies the crane, a bird associated with Manannán and his crane bag.
2 The god is also associated with lakes and several castles, such as Castle Mannin, Co. Mayo 
and Mannin Castle, the remains of a ringfort, in Co. Monaghan. 
This stands near a lough known as Mannin's Pool and local folklore tells that St. Patrick fought here with Manannán and defeated him by confining him to the water. 
Manannán however escapes on occasion and has been seen by local people in the form of a hare.

3 The triskelion, the island's symbol known as the "three legs of Mann", Tree Cassyn Vannin.

4 He is also believed to inhabit the isolated rock of Carrickmannon. 
Found about 1 km offshore to the north east of Kinbane Head, Co. Antrim,
the rock is submerged and it is only at low tide when the waves break across it,
is Manannán's home visible.

Low tide at Carrickmannon from

5 Manannán offers the golden boat, part of the Broighter Hoard, found in 1896 and thought to be
a ritual offering the god when the area was underwater.

The gold boat is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

Photos of Broighter Hoard from Irish Archaeology  HERE

6 & 7 From the waves emerge Manannán's horse, Aonbharr and the Salmon of Wisdom 
who lives in the well at Emhain Ablach, one of Manannán's home.

8 Manannán's boat journeys towards the Blessed Isles, to Tír Fo Thonn, the Land Beneath Wave and Tír Na Nog, the Land of Youth.

Manannán overlooking Lough Foyle:
Manannán by John Darren Sutton

Manannán overlooking Lough Foyle by John Darren Sutton

The work of sculptor John Darren Sutton can be found here - JD SUTTON
Photographic prints of his work - Here
You can also see him here too.


  1. Jane, I absolutely love your paintings, especially all the research you put into them. The detail in your paintings is exquisite!

  2. This is a really interesting blog post with lots information Jane, am sure that others to will be amazed at what you have gleaned.

  3. Thank you Carol - I do love a bit of research : )

  4. Fascinating! I adore this painting and I can see why you used your friend as a model, so much character in one face. The Isle of Man is one of our favourite haunts and we have several friends there. I love the mythology that surrounds the island x

  5. Thank you for your kind words Fran & yes, Flor has a great face ! I love the IoM too - still have family there - one day I'll make it back for a visit.

  6. Just wonderful, Jane! Your friend has an inspiring face! I have never been to the Isle of Man, but can imagine it must be steeped in the atmosphere of its history. I notice you've also lived in Africa, Jane. No wonder I feel you are a kindred spirit with your love of Africa and celtic art, mythology and literature… but your own art is even more beautiful!

  7. Thank you Val. Yes I was born in Ghana but left when I was about 4 years old - think we have a lot in common too : )

  8. It is a fascinating adventure to read and see your blogs. I feel like I`ve been sitting by a warm fire with a cup of tea, listening to someone tell me stories beautifully, by the time I finish reading (and admiring) your work. Thank you for that joy.

  9. Thank you Carol - glad you enjoyed the story of the painting. Actually I am sitting by the fire, usually with a cup of tea when I write them :)


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