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How much of Ireland's tale of a mythical, vanishing island is rooted in reality?

The mythical island of Hy Brasil off the coast of Ireland

Hy-Brasil is a phantom island which features in many Irish myths. The island is said to be cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, when it becomes visible but still cannot be reached. It appears on a map in 1325 off the south west coast of Ireland. Despite the failure of so many attempts to find it, there exist sketches of this island, circular in shape with a river running east to west across its diameter.  If you’re in the Uk listen to this short story piece, written and nar

Hy-Brasil is a phantom island which features in many Irish myths. The island is said to be cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, when it becomes visible but still cannot be reached.

The  Nautical chart of Western Europe (1473) shows Hy-Brasil in a circular shape

The Nautical chart of Western Europe shows Hy-Brasil in a circular shape

Hy-Brasil in Petrus Plancius’s “Orbis Terrarum Typus de Integro Multis in Locis Emendatus,” Amsterdam, 1594. Image via Mapping Boston Foundation and HyperallergicToday in cartographical howlers: a new exhibition in Boston, “Hy-Brasil: Mapping a Mythical Island,” chronicles the exciting centuries when no one really knew where anything was and mapmakers had carte blanche to draw whole... Read More »

Hy-Brasil Is Wherever You Want It to Be, and Other News

Hy-Brasil in Petrus Plancius's 'Orbis Terrarum Typus de Integro Multis in Locis Emendatus' (Amsterdam, (via Mapping Boston Foundation)

Legend of Hy-Brasil Island

The mysterious island of Hy-Brasil is documented on maps as early as The mystery of Hy-Brasil is that it simply disappeared without a trace.

The island of Hy Brasil:

The island of Hy Brasil:

mythical island of Hy Brasil...A Catalan map of about 1480 labels an island as “Illa de brasil”  to the south west of Ireland, where the mythical place was supposed to be...

Did mythical, vanishing island, Hy-brasil, off the western coast of Ireland really exist?

On Canna, there is a legend associated with an islet in the harbour, Eilean a Bhaird, The Island of the Bard. Here Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Alexander MacDonald, is said to have composed his epic praise-poem ‘Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill’, ‘The Birlinn of Clanranald’, in celebration of co-operation. He describes how each member of the crew is appointed a section of the boat, and allotted task, as they sail from South Uist to Ireland.

Wood etching of a Birlinn ship - note the rudder on the end opposed to paddles

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