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Llŷr (Welsh: Llŷr Llediaith; Lleddiarth meaning "half-speech"[1] or "half-language"[2]) is a figure in Welsh mythology, probably originally a deity. Ll He appears as the father of Brân, Brânwen and Manawydan by Penarddun in the Branwen, Daughter of Llyr, the Second Branch of the Mabinogi.[3]

The Welsh Triads states that Llŷr was imprisoned by Euroswydd,[4] and presumbably, Penarddun consequently married Euroswydd,[5] giving birth by Euroswydd to her two younger sons, Nisien and Efnisien, as stated in the Second Branch.[3]

Other than his progeny and odd tidbits, his identity remains obscure. Llŷr is thought to be cognate to Lir, father of the sea-god Manannán mac Lir from Irish mythology,[6] and through this association Llŷr himself is conjectured to be a sea god.

William Shakespeare's play King Lear is based on material taken secondhand (through Holinshed) from Geoffrey of Monmouth's mythical king King Leir, which in turn may derive from Llŷr.[7]

The House of Llŷr[edit]

Beli mab Mynogan
Brân the Blessed(♂)

(*) Unbordered names are figures not in Llŷr's line of descent, though perhaps members of the extended family.
(*) This stemma is subject to further elaboration. If the Beli above is to be equated with Beli Mawr then Caswallawn stands as Penarddun's sibling. But Bromwich observes that Penarddun should be emended to being the sister of Beli, which would bring consistency with statement elsewhere that Caswallawn and Bran are cousins.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bromwich 1961, triads #8 and #52
  2. ^ Mackillop 1998
  3. ^ a b Jones & Jones 1949, New Revised ed. 1993, p.21, "Bendigeidfran son of Llŷr was crowned king.. His two brothers on the mother's side (Nisien and Efnisien) were sons of Euroswydd by his mother Penarddun."
  4. ^ Bromwich 1961, triad #52
  5. ^ Moutain 1998 Celt. Enc. vol.4, p.930, "Penarddun then married Euroswydd and bore his children Nissyen and Evnissyen"
  6. ^ Mackillop 1998, "Llŷr is often assumed to be borrowed from the Irish Lir, the patronym of the sea-god Manannán
  7. ^ Mackillop 1998, "Many trace Shakespear's.. Lear to Llŷr, but the route is tortuous; Shakespeare drew from.. Holinshed's Chronicles (1577)", etc.
  8. ^ Bromwich 1961, endnotes, p.284- on "Bran Vendigeit m. Llyr".


  • Mackillop, James (1998), Dictionary of Celtic Mytholgy, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0192801201 , p. 301, under "Llŷr".
  • Mountain, Harry (1998), Celtic Encyclopedia (preview) 4, Universal-Publishers, pp. 929–, ISBN 978-1-58112-893-2 
  • The New Companion to the Literature of Wales, Meic Stevens.