Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
St Brendan's Island
Named after the Saint Brendan who founded the Clonfert monastery and monastic school, the island was apparently discovered by the saint and his followers while they were traveling across the ocean, evangelizing to islands. It appeared on maps in Columbus’ time, apparently acting as one of the things spurring him on to explore the ocean Westwards; the island has been appearing on numerous maps, though no-one quite knows where it should be or if it even does exist.
It also sparked some controversy, because the claim is that St. Brendan and his brethren arrived at the Americas first, around the 6th century. The first mention of the island was in the ninth century Latin text Navigatio Santi Brendani Abatis (Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot), placing the island into Irish and European folklore.
In 1976 British Navigations scholar Tim Severin undertook St. Brendan’s voyage, using a similar-sized crew and the same kind of boat, to see if the voyage was possible. They did manage to arrive at Newfoundland, following the records of the Latin text, confirming that it was possible to have made the voyage described, but they didn’t find the mysterious isle.
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