Saint Brendan

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Brendan, Saint, was born in Kerry about 484, received his early education from Bishop Erc, and then studied at Tuam and Clonard. To atone for the death of a person who had been drowned at sea — to which catastrophe Brendan feared he had involuntarily contributed — he is said to have gone, by the advice of St. Ita, to Brittany, where he formed a monastery or school. He is chiefly famous for his mythical voyage to Hy Brasail. After gathering information all along our western coast concerning the visionary western land, he set sail from Mount Brandon, and after a long voyage, his vessel, impelled by a miraculous current, reached a shore where he and his companions found a charming climate and lovely birds. They walked into the interior for fifteen days, but when about to cross a great river, were warned back by an angel, who said that they had gone far enough, and that it was reserved for other men and other times to christianize the land. Lanigan says: "Although the narrative of these voyages abound with fables, yet it may be admitted that Brendan sailed, in company with some other persons, towards the west, in search of some island or country, the existence of which he had heard of." Not long after his return to Ireland, he founded the monastery of Clonfert, where he presided over a large community of monks, who maintained themselves by the labour of their hands. At a late period of his life, he visited Columcille at Iona; and some years prior to his death retired from Clonfert to Inchiquin in Lough Corrib. He died at his sister's monastery of Annadown in 577, aged 93, and was interred at Clonfert. His festival is the 16th of May.

Sources

119. Ecclesiastical History of Ireland: Rev. John Lanigan. 4 vols. Dublin, 1822.

171. Ireland, History of, from the earliest period to the English Invasion: Rev. Geoffrey Keating: Translated from the Irish, and Noted by John O'Mahony. New York, 1857.

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