May 17, 2010

The Brendan Voyage

photo via creative commons by Lavender Dreamer

Many people dismissed the whimsical tale of Brendan’s 6th century voyage into the then uncharted western sea. That is, until the possibility of such an excursion was proved in the 1970’s. Britain’s Tim Severin is an adventurer who once followed the route of Marco Polo on motorcycle. He tracked other explorers’ routes as well. Severin took great care reconstructing a leather boat much like Brendan, one of Ireland’s great traveling monks, would have used. He then followed the northern Atlantic stepping-stones route to Nova Scotia. Along the journey, which was not without perils, he observed Brendan’s sea monsters (curious and friendly whales), his island of sheep (Faroe Islands), and many other things that could be explained. Severin details his adventures in The Brendan Voyage, providing a convincing argument that perhaps not all of the old Irish legends are purely fiction.

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