O Ireland isn't it grand you look--
Like a bride in her rich adornin?
And with all the pent-up love of my heart
I bid you the top o' the mornin!
-John Locke

Around A.D. 530, the Irish monk Brendan and his followers (the number varies from eighteen to 150) set out across the Atlantic to evangelize and search for Paradise. For seven years they lived on an island with a perfect climate, happy inhabitants and abundant nature. We think this voyage happened, which is to say that Saint Brendan and some fellow monks left Ireland, although the earliest accounts of it appear three hundred years later.

St Brendan’s Isle appears on the most famous map of the Medieval era, theHereford Mappa Mundi, but more importantly it was a common feature on portolan charts, which were intended to be accurate charts for sailors. It also appeared on 17th century maps by Mercator and Ortelius and in the 1707 De Lisle map. Generally it was located west of the Canaries. There’s a feeling that by the Age of the Enlightenment mapmakers were willing to admit the island didn’t exist but that didn’t stop them wanting to believe in it.
Posted: 8 months ago
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