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Saint Brendan.

Brendan the Navigator.

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Saint Brendan.
Brendan The Navigator.

Saint Brendan was born in what is now Tralee, in county Kerry about 489 and died 578. In his early days he studied under St. Enda and Bishop Erc. Brendan showed much talent, and was appointed Abbot of Llancarfan in Wales. Later he went to Brittany and became tutor to Saint Malo. He is credited with founding Ardfert Cathedral in County Kerry.

Brendan appears to have had a love of travel, some Scottish legends report that he founded a Christian colony on the Orkney Islands, and there are references to him preaching on the Faeroe Islands.

Saint Brendan's most famous exploit begins in the Abbey of Clonfert County Galway, there he talked to the Monk Barrind, tells Brendan of another monk called Mernock, who has made long journeys to the west, and has made many converts.

On hearing this Brendan formulated his plans to equal if not outdo Mernock, he chose fourteen monks to accompany him, and set about building a boat.

It is thought that the voyage began from Brandon Bay, whether or not the party reached America many centuries before Columbus is not known, the account of the voyage describes visiting a sea of frozen glass, the birth of a volcanic island, and great whales in the Arctic ocean

A description of the building of the boat has survived, although from a much later period, using this and other records of Brendan's voyage, Tim Severin in 1976 built a replica boat, he and his crew successfully made a voyage from the west of Ireland up through the Hebrides and Faeroe's past Iceland and on to Greenland. From there they crossed the Davis Strait to Newfoundland, where they landed on the 26th June 1978. Proving that Irish monks could have voyaged as far as America.

Saint Brendan's traditional feast day is May 16.

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