The mysterious island of Hy Brasil

Just west off the coast of Ireland there is believed to have existed a mysterious island referred to as Hy Brasil, Brasil, Brafil or Bracile. In this post I want to share a little more about this mythical mysterious island, which plays a key role in my recently announced book The Journey of the White Dahlia.

In Irish oral tradition stories about the existence of a mysterious island that could be viewed along the west coast of Ireland once every seven years have existed since the 12th century. There were stories about an island appearing in a fog bank or a “floating island” that would disappear when a person would get near to it. Later these stories were printed into books about Irish folklore, such as Irish wonders; the ghosts, giants, pookas, demons, leprechawns, banshees, fairies, witches, widows, old maids, and other marvels of the Emerald Isle; popular tales as told by the people. In the Irish folklore book dating back to 1888 there is a chapter on The Enchanted Island, featuring an enchanted island, which would have been visible for the inhabitants of County Cork on July 7th, 1878. The island vanished and would later appear once every seven years just off the west coast of Ireland. 

The earliest references to Hy Brasil on maps date back to as early as the 14th century, when it was captured by cartographers on documents like the Catalan Atlas dating back to 1375. Later it also appeared on a number of other maps, such as the European map from the atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum created by Abraham Ortelius in 1570, referring to the island as Brafil.

Although many regard the existence of Hy Brasil as mere folklore or just a shoal bank, the fact it has appeared in oral traditions and maps ever since the Middle Ages does raise the intriguing question if something profound could have actually existed off the west coast of Ireland. In my forthcoming book The Journey of the white Dahlia I will delve deeper into this story and what may have existed in the Atlantic Ocean for centuries all along.

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