Five Mythical Islands
Hy-Brasil, Buyan, Saint Brendan’s Isle, the Island of Antillia, and the Isle of Avalon are five fabled islands that were once believed to have existed by many people through the ages. All had their own magical qualities and characteristics that were given to them by the human culture they appeared in. Presented here is a brief introduction to these five fabled islands before concluding with a few ideas on their possible significance for the reader to think about.
Hy-Brasil and the Court of King Breasal
In Irish mythology and folklore, Hy-Brasil was the island where the legendary Breasal, the High King of the World held his court. It was said to be situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Ireland and was a kind of island paradise where all good things were bountiful and people lived in peace and happiness. All who dwelt there were bestowed with the gift of immortality.
Hy-Brasil was a difficult place to find because the island was said to be shrouded in mist. It could only be seen once every seven years when the mist lifted which was the time when Breasal held his court on the island. It was during these brief times when the island was visible that the court was believed to be in session. Although the island could be seen at such times, it could not be reached and King Breasal was said to have the power to make the island sink below the waves or rise above them at his command.
Hy-Brasil was a phantom island and actually appeared on nautical maps as far back as 1325, when it was shown on the Dalorto Chart created by an Italian-Majorcan cartographer, Angelino Dulcert. There are many other examples of phantom islands that appear on ancient maps but cannot be found and are later removed from new versions. Some are mythical such as Antillia and Saint Brendan’s Isle, while others may once have existed but disappeared beneath the waves in volcanic, or geological action, or perhaps covered by rising sea levels. Some such as Crockerland were hoaxes or based on a kind of mirage known as Fata Morgana, while others were navigational errors. Many explorers sought for Hy-Brasil and while a few claimed to have found it no evidence was ever brought back confirming the existence of King Breasal and his island and it was eventually removed from maps.