The Biography of the Irish God of the Sea From The Voyage of Bran (700 A. D.) to Finnegans Wake (1939): The Waves of Manannán

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This book is one of the few works that examines the roles of Manannán mac Lir, one of the most fascinating characters in Irish literature, in Gaelic, Manx and Anglo-Irish literature. The author brings together and examines the various roles Manannán plays in Irish and Anglo-Irish literature and determines both the consistency and diversity in the ways he is portrayed in these stories. These representations are presented as a literary “biography: for Manannán with emphasis on both the invariant aspects of his character and his impressive adaptability. In addition, the author also demonstrates and seeks to explain the popularity and incredible longevity of Manannán in Irish and Anglo-Irish literature from Immram Brain to Finnegan’s Wake.


“In his pursuit of the long-lived Manannán, Charles MacQuarrie steadily navigates the seas of medieval and early modern Irish narrative, Irish folk tradition, and Anglo-Irish literature,….proving to be as resourceful and tenacious as Manannán, and as wisely aware of our limitations as Cú Chulainn. This is precisely the kind of work that needs to be done, in spades, in our never ending quest to understand medieval Irish literature: work informed by an appreciation of the ambiguity upon which this literature thrives, by an expertise that is impressively wide-ranging, and by a stubborn unwillingness to dwell on details in isolation from the bigger picture. Recovering all that was lost when Manannán’s cloak was shaken between us and the medieval Irish world is of course impossible, but Dr. MacQuarrie’s work gives us the distinct sense that….we too now can “see” Manannán mac Lir.” (From the Preface) Joseph Falaky Nagy, University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
1. The First Wave: Pagan God/ Christian Godsend
2. The Second Wave: The Euhemeristic and Pseudo-Historical Sources
3. The Third Wave: Finn Tales, Folktales, and the Bardic Tradition
4. The New Wave: Anglo-Irish Literature

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