By Glynis Scrivens

For the past 700 years, there have been rumours of a mist-shrouded island located 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Galway Bay. An island that only appeared once every seven years.

The island of Hy-Brasil appeared in maps from 1325 until the 1870s, and it has featured in Irish art and literature.

Explorers claim to have discovered the island. Saints Barrind and Brendan are said to have walked the shore. In the 1989 British film Erik the Viking, Hy-Brasil is depicted as a sunlit land with hospitable people, which disappears into the sea at the first shedding of blood.

Yet did this mythical island ever really exist? Or is it simply folklore? What exactly is known about this Irish Atlantis? Hy-Brasil has been variously known as Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil and Brazir. In Celtic folklore, Breasal was the high King of the World.

For centuries, differing legends about this island circulated through Europe – of an advanced civilisation of holy people, of a promised land, of a land of fairies and magic. Some claim to have landed and seen towers with gold roofs and healthy cattle.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own