It’s hard to imagine ‘hidden islands’ anymore, if only because the world’s magic tends to diminish when you map every square inch of it – from space. But rumours do persist about a mist-shrouded isle off the coast of Ireland. In fact, they’ve been persisting for the last 700 years…
The island in question is ‘Hy-Brasil’, also known as the ‘Irish Atlantis’. Since the 14th century, explorers and cartographers have placed it roughly 321 kilometres west of the Irish coast, despite the fact Hy-Brasil – not to point too fine a point on things – doesn’t actually exist.
Like all good mythological islands, there have been plenty of tall tales and storm-wracked nautical sightings. Three 15th century expeditions set out to find Hy-Brasil (all unsuccessfully) and Italian explorer John Cabot wrote about it in his letters, referencing a world that was “discovered in the past by the men from Bristol, who found [Hy-Brasil]”. In 1674, a sailor named Captain Nisbet claimed to have actually stumbled on the island and met the locals: one solitary magician and some enormous black rabbits.
Science, of course, offers a few explanations. Some geologists have suggested that Hy-Brasil is actually ‘Porcupine Bank’, a very un-magical strip of cold water reef. Others reckon the Atlantic island of Rockall is the culprit.
Researcher Sean Lynch has literally written the book on Hy-Brasil, and in 2007 he stationed cameras at strategic points along the Irish coast, hoping to catch a glimpse of the phantom island. The results didn’t prove Hy-Brasil existed…but they didn’t disprove it either.