'God's spirit is the wind in my sails, and he will lead me wherever he wants me to go' - Saint Brendan
Welcome back to the blog for another story from the Dingle Peninsula. I hope you’ve all had a good week. It’s hard to believe that this strange year of 2020 is finally winding down! Despite the obvious difficulties of the current situation, there has been a lovely atmosphere around the Dingle Peninsula as Christmas draws near. I for one have enjoyed taking in all the decorations and lights around the Peninsula. It is so lovely to see the countryside lit up and the windows of the local shops filled with Christmas scenes and decorations. No matter what, the atmosphere around Christmas time is always special, and I’m delighted to see the same is true this year.
If you read my post from last week, you’ll know that we are really pushing the ‘shop local’ message at the moment. It has never been more important to shop in your own area and to support your local businesses. It’s wonderful to see so many people getting on board with this idea, and local businesses are delighted with the support. For those of you who aren’t in the area, as I explained, most of these businesses can post internationally, so have a browse to bring a little piece of the Dingle Peninsula to you – wherever you may be!
It's been a while since I’ve brought you a tale from the Dingle Peninsula, so I am back with one this week! Earlier this week saw one of the only dry days we’ve had in weeks – the winter weather has really taken hold recently! So, I took the opportunity to get out into the landscape and explore part of the Dingle Peninsula. And Brandon Creek is where I ended up. I will say I’m absolutely ashamed to admit that I had never been there before. It is a beautiful hidden cove on the far west of the Peninsula and it happens to be the exact spot from which St. Brendan the Navigator embarked on his voyage, heading out into the vast Atlantic Ocean back in the 500s AD. So, naturally the area holds an immense amount of history and is very special because of the link with St. Brendan’s story.
St. Brendan was one of the first to set off in search of discovery. He departed from Brandon Creek somewhere between the years 512 – 530 AD. Before setting off, he prepared by praying and fasting for almost 40 days on the top of Mount Brandon. St. Brendan is the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Kerry, and the story told is that he built a traditional ‘Currach’ with square sails and covered it in leather skins that had been stitched to create a seal to prevent water leaking through and together with 14 other monks, he then set off to bring the Gospel to the unknown Continent on the Western part of the world. This was long before Christopher Columbus’s voyages, and while it was possible that there were those before him, St. Brendan was likely one of the first to set off into the unknown. His voyage lasted 7 years, and when he returned home people flocked here to the Dingle Peninsula to hear the tales of his travels. St. Brendan is now the patron saint of boatmen, mariners and travellers. His tale is very well known and it’s a particularly special piece of history to have begun right here on the Dingle Peninsula. Below, I’ve included a song written about his travels ‘St. Brendan’s Voyage’ sung by the brilliant Christy Moore! This song will give you more information about his voyage than anything else (with a bit of artistic licence included)! We learned it in school and it has remained engrained in my brain ever since! It’s quite catchy! Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc_gfchJ9r8
The story of St. Brendan’s historic voyage that started in Brandon Creek became a tale passed down through the generations and almost 1400 years later, in 1976, Tim Severin, an explorer, constructed a boat in the same way St. Brendan did and set sail from Brandon Creek on May 17th, 1976 to follow the same route St. Brendan had done before him. Tim and his fellow adventurers arrived in Newfoundland 13 months later, proving that St. Brendan’s voyage was certainly probable. It’s incredible to have the knowledge that two men, 1400 years apart, made the same voyage in similar boats and both reached the same land. St. Brendan described his route as going along The Isle of Sheep, The Paradise of Birds, The Isle of the Smiths, The Land of Crystal Pillars, Through the Region of the Fog to the Promised Land. On his journey all those years later, Tim Severin recognised these same landmarks as the modern The Hebrides, The Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and America. What an incredible discovery for both St. Brendan and Tim Severin.
So, there you go! An extremely unique and important piece of history and discovery of other parts of the world started right here on our beautiful Peninsula. I’m delighted to have knocked across Brandon Creek this week and I’m so happy to be able to bring you this story. I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing different aspects of the Dingle Peninsula to you all from afar over the past few months. I will be back again next week with one more story before Christmas, and then I’ll pick it back up in the New Year. Have a wonderful week and enjoy the lead up to Christmas!
Slán go fóill,
With some information thanks to: