Celtic "atlantis" - hy brasil

Discussion in 'Celtic Mythology' started by Rhonda Tharp, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    Hy-Brazil is a phantom island which features in many Irish myths. It was said to be cloaked in mist, except for one day each seven years, when it became visible but could still not be reached. It probably has similar roots to St. Brendan's Island. The names Brazil and Hy-Brazil are thought to come from the Irish Uí Breasail (meaning "descendants (i.e., clan) of Breasal"), one of the ancient clans of northeastern Ireland. cf. Old Irish: Í: island; bres: beauty, worth; great, mighty.
    Searches for the island

    It appears that as the north Atlantic was explored, the name of Brazil may have been attached to a real place. A Catalan map of about 1480 labels two islands "Illa de brasil", one to the south west of Ireland (where the mythical place was supposed to be) and one south of "Illa verde" or Greenland. Expeditions left Bristol in 1480 and 1481 to search for it, and a letter written shortly after the return of John Cabot from his expedition in 1497 reports that land found by Cabot had been "discovered in the past by the men from Bristol who found Brasil".
    Some historians claim that the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral thought that he had reached this island in 1500, thus naming the country of Brazil. However, Cabral didn't choose the name 'Brazil'. The country was at first named Ilha de Vera Cruz (Island of the True Cross), later Terra de Santa Cruz (Land of the Holy Cross) and still later 'Brazil'. The generally accepted theory states that it was renamed for the brazilwood, which has an extreme red color (so "brasil" derived from "brasa": ember), a plant very valuable in Portuguese commerce and abundant in the new-found land.
    The island has also been identified with Terceira in the Azores, which was at one time named Brazil, while another phantom island sometimes known as Brazil was the Isle of Mam.
    Others claimed to have seen the island, or even landed on it, the last supposed sighting being in 1872. Roderick O’Flaherty in A Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connaught (1684) tells us "There is now living, Morogh O'Ley (Murrough Ó Laoí), who imagins he was personally on O'Brasil for two days, and saw out of it the iles of Aran, Golamhead, Irrosbeghill, and other places of the west continent he was acquainted with."
    On maps, the island was shown as being circular, often with a central strait or river running east-west across its diameter. Despite the failure of attempts to find it, it appeared regularly on maps lying south west of Galway Bay from 1325 until 1865, by which time it was called Brazil Rock.
    It has also been identified with Porcupine Bank, a shoal in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 kilometers (124 mi) west of Ireland and discovered in 1862. As early as 1870 a paper was read to the Geological Society of Ireland suggesting this identification. The suggestion reappears regularly since, e.g. in an 1883 edition of Notes and Queriesand in various publications in the twentieth century, one of the most recent being Graham Hancock's book Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age.
  2. WoodNymph

    WoodNymph New Member

    I wonder whether every culture has these mysterious places, hidden from the rest of the world. What must it be like to live in one of these worlds? How must these myths get started?

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