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This is a series of excerpts from Charles Plummer's translation of Betha Brenainn Clúana Ferta ("Life of Brendan of Clonfert"), a short piece concerning the Brendan legend which appears in his 1922 work Bethada Náem nÉrenn/Lives of Irish Saints, pubished in two volumes by Clarendon Preess in Oxford, England.
The transcription appears in Volume I, whilst Plummer's translation can be found in Volume II. In both instances, the tale begins at page 44.


27It was after this therefore that there grew up in his [i.e. Brendan's] heart a great love to the Lord, and he desired to leave his land and his country, his parents and his patrimony. He requested earnestly of the Lord that he would grant him some secret country, far removed from men.


28It happened then that Brendan was in the place called Leim na Subaltaige, when there came to him a certain holy man named Barinthus, son's son to King Niall. And as Brendan was making many inquiries of him, he prostrated himself on the ground mourning and weeping.

Brendan raised him from the ground, and kissing him said to him: "It were fitter for thee to rejoice than to mourn; and by God's Passion I adjure thee to tell us some of the words of God, and satisfy our souls."


29And after such converse between them the man began to tell him of a certain island, and said as follows: "I had a son named Mernoc, and he fled from me, because he did not wish to remain in the same place with me. And he found an island near a certain mountain called Sliabh na Cloiche. And some time afterwards, when it had been shown to me that he had many monks with him, and that many miracles were manifested through him, I went on a visit to him; and when I came within three days' journey of him, he came to meet me with the brethren, for God had revealed to him my coming.

30"And when we reached the island, the brethren came to us out of their cells, like a swarm of bees; and though their dwellings were divided from one another, there was no division in their converse, or counsel, or affection. And their only victuals were apples and nuts, and roots of such kinds of herbs as they found. And the brethren used to go to their separate cells from compline till cockcrow.

31"And I and my son traversed the island, and after we had gone over it, he took me with him to the shore where was a boat; and he said to me: 'Dear father, get into the boat,' said he, 'that we may go and see the island which is called The Land of the Saints [Talamh na Naomh], which God is to promise to men who shall come after us.' And when we had entered the boat, a mist fell upon us, so that we could hardly see the prow of our boat.

32"And when we had spent the space of an hour of the day in this way, a great light came upon us, and we saw the island in resplendent beauty, full of fragrant apples and blossom; and there was no single herb or tree among them which was not laden with fruit. And then we brought the boat to land in the island. And we were traversing it for the space of fifteen days, and could not find any end to it. And the stones of the island were all jewels. And at the end of the fifteenth day we found a stream which traversed the island, and we did not know what to do as to crossing the stream. And we awaited the counsel of God.

33"And as we were setting forth, we saw coming to us a man of radiant beauty, who greeted us by our own proper names, and said: 'Beloved brothers, God has revealed this land to you, and this is the half of the island, and it is not permitted to you to go beyond it; so return to the place whence ye came.' And when he had said this, we asked him whence he came, and what his own name was.

34"The man said: 'What makes you ask me this? for it were fitter for you to inquire about this island and its history than about mine; for ye see it now without lack of fruit or flower, and thus it is since the beginning of the world. And ye need no food or drink; for ye have been a year in this land, and have not tasted food or drink all that time, and further ye have not needed rest or sleep, nor has night or other darkness befallen you during that time, So then day unending and unceasing will last here without darkness for ever, for our Lord Jesus Christ is the light and splendour of it. And if men did not transgress the commandments of their Lord, they would remain in this delight everlastingly.'

35"And when we heard this, we experienced great sorrow, and intense regret; and when we had finished our mourning we began to return to our boat. And the holy man accompanied us to the brink of the shore; and when we had entered our boat, he was taken from our sight, so that we knew not whither he had betaken himself from us.

36"And after we had set out thus, we passed through the same mist which we spoke of above. And we made no stop or stay till we came to the brink of the island from which we set out previously. And when the brethren saw us, they were filled with immeasurable joy and gladness at our coming to them, and began to question us as to what had befallen us during the time of our absence; and they said: 'O holy fathers, why have ye left your sheep to wander in this island without a shepherd? And our abbot has often gone on a visit for a month or a fortnight, or a week or something less.'

37"And he tried to comiort the brethren. And I said to them afterwards," said Barinthus, "'Think not anything but what is unquestionably good, for your converse is good, and your dwelling is hard by Paradise, and near to you is the island which is called the Promised Land of the Saints [Talamh aithgellta na Naomh]. There is never any night, and the day never ends. And Mernoc, your abbot, has often been there, and the angels of God protect that island. And have ye not perceived by the scent of our garments that we have been in Paradise?' The brethren said: 'Ah, dear father,' said they, 'we perceived that ye had been in Paradise, by the goodly smell of your garments; for often has our abbot himself been there, and the smell of his raiment has been meat to us for the space of forty days.'

"And, O Brendan," said Barinthus, "I remained a fortnight in that place with my son, without eating or drinking, and at the end of forty days I returned to my brethren and my own cell."

38When Brendan and the brethren heard this, they bowed their heads to the ground, and praised God greatly, and said: "Benedictus, etc.," that is, "Blessed is God in His own gifts, and holy in all His works, in that he has revealed so many miracles. as these to His servants, and has fed us to the full this day with spiritual food." And after this mutual converse Brendan bade his family go with him to spiritual (? bodily) refection, and the new commandment (lit. renewal). When the night was passed, and Brendan had given his blessing to Barinthus, the latter returned to his own place of abode.


39And when he had departed, Brendan collected fourteen brethren of his congregation, and went with them to a secluded place; and among them was an elect youth, illustrious in good works, engaged in the praise of God from the beginning of his life to the end. And whoever wishes to acquire a knowledge of his acts, let him read his youthful deeds; and the person whom we allude to is Machutus.

Brendan spoke to the brethren, and said: "O beloved fellow citizens," said he, "I am asking of you counsel and help, for my heart and thoughts are all fixed on one single desire, if it be God's desire, to seek the land which Barinthus told us of, the land which God has promised to the men who shall come after us. And what counsel give ye me hereon?"

40When Brendan had made known his desire to the brethren, they all said with one voice: "Beloved father," said they, "the counsel that thou willest, is the counsel that we will. And have we not left our own fathers for thee? and have we not left our own inheritance for thyself? and did we not surrender our bodies into thy hands? And therefore we are ready to take death or life together with thee. There is but one thing besides. Let us seek to ascertain the will of the holy Father, and to fulfil it."

So Brendan with his family determined to hold a fast of forty days and nights to the Lord, that he would prosper them, and guide them to the end in every path in which they were to go.

41Brendan slept after this, and heard the voice of an angel from heaven saying: "Arise, Brendan," said he, "that which thou hast requested thou shalt receive of God, that is to visit the Land of Promise [Tir Tairngire] at last."


42Thereupon Brendan arose, and his heart rejoiced at the answer of the angel. And he went to a place apart by himself, and scanned the ocean on every side of him. And he saw on the ocean an island wondrous fair with attendance of angels about it. After this Brendan remained in that place some time, and slept again a little in it.

The angel of God came to converse with him once more, and said to him: "Henceforth," said he, "I will be ever with thee, and I will show thee one day the fair island which thou hast seen, and which thou desirest to find."

Brendan wept greatly for joy at the answer of the angel, and gave thanks to God.


43Brendan then set forth with his company, leaving their blessing with the prior of the monastery which we spoke of previously, who was afterwards Brendan's successor among the brethren. And Brendan then went westwards, and fourteen brethren with him, till he reached the island of a holy father named Enda of Aran; and made a stay of three days and three nights in the island. And they left their blessing with St. Enda.


44Then Brendan with his company went into the most distant part of his paternal territory; but he would not approach his father or mother, or go near them, but went to the summit of a lofty mountain near the ocean where their boat was. And that place was thenceforth called Suide Brenainn (Brendan's Seat). They said that it was time for them to find that island, and they went to their boat to strengthen it with iron and ox hides; and they then placed in Brendan's boat equipment of every kind sufficient for two other boats. And they smeared their joinings within and without with myrrh and bitumen, and pitch and rosin.

45And when the boat was ready, Brendan bade his company embark in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He himself remained behind them alone on the shore, and blessed the harbour on either side.

And after this he saw three monks of his family coming towards him, and they fell on their knees before him, and said: "O holy father," said they, "for the love of God let us go with thee where thou goest, or else we will starve ourselves, for we have vowed to make our pilgrimage with thee as long as we live."

46When the father, Brendan, saw their distress, he said to them: "Get into the boat, for I know in what sort ye have come. Good are the works of one man of you, and God has prepared a good place for him; but he has prepared additional punishment for (the others of) you."

So after this converse Brendan entered his boat, and his company entered their two other boats. And on this wise were Brendan's boats, with three rows of oars to each boat, and sails of the skins of animals both wild and domesticated, and twenty men in each boat.

47Then came a jester to Brendan, and knelt before him, and said to him: "O Brendan," said he, "take me with thee for God's sake, and pity my wretchedness, that I may go with thee."

Brendan took him with him for God's sake, and embarked in his boats with sixty men as writings say:

Sixty men of them in the fleet;
They laboured not on Sunday;
Their minds were fixed on the dear Creator,
Praising the King of the (heavenly) palace.

48After this they went on the surface of the sea and mighty ocean and hoisted their sails above their boats, and the wind carried them to the port of Aran again, And Pupa, and Enda of Aran, and Ronad came to see the fleet.


49Brendan bade farewell to the saints of Aran, and left a blessing with them, and they sailed on due west across the ocean, and saw after a while at a distance from them a notable fair island. And they steered their boats towards it, till they reached the brink of it. And they saw the shore full of hideous furry mice as large as cats.

The brethren asked Brendan: "What do yonder mice want?" said they.

"Their desire is to eat and devour us," said Brendan.

50Thereupon was revealed to Brendan that it was the death hour of the jester who was in the boat with them.

So he said to him: "Arise," said he, "and take the body and blood of Christ, and depart to the eternal life, for I hear the song of the angels calling thee to them,"

Then the mind of the jester rejoiced at this saying, and he said: "Ah, Lord," said he," what good have I done that I should be taken to heaven so speedily?"

Brendan answered and said that it was fitting that he should fulfil the will of God.

51So when he had received the body and blood of Christ, his spirit leapt forth, and was straightway borne with great joy to heaven, where is Jesus Christ with the nine orders of heaven about Him. His body was then thrown upon the shore, and the mice devoured it, and left nothing but the bare bones upon the shore. The company of Brendan buried his bones afterwards, and his name was inscribed in the Martyrology, for he was a glorious martyr. And herein is seen the kindness of the Lord, that the sinner who came last to the ship should be chosen of Him to go first to heaven.

52After this the company of Brendan hoisted their sails, and it was then the summer season, and they had a favourable brisk wind right behind them, so that they had no need to row, but only to keep their sails hoisted. And after they had spent ten days on this wise the wind lowered its loud voice and whistling, and its force being spent they were compelled to row.

53Brendan spake to them and said: "Fear not," said he, "for we bave our God Himself as our guide and helper. And ship your oars, and do not toil or labour; and God will guide His own boat and company as He pleases."

And Brendan and his company used to take their supper every evening. And they got a steady wind, but knew not whither the wind was carrying them.


54After spending forty days on this wise, and all their provisions being exhausted, they saw at a distance a lofty island, stony and sandy. And when they drew near to the island, they found that it had lofty banks, with azure streams of pure water falling down over the banks into the sea. But they could find no harbour where they could land on the island. And the brethren were harassed and spent for want of food and drink. And they desired to catch the water of the streams in their vessels, and take it with them.

Then Brendan said to them: "Do not steal the water of the island, for God will reveal to us at the end of three days a harbour where we may find means to satisfy our weak and strength less bodies."

55After making a circuit of the island for the space of three days, they found a harbour with room for one boat to land there. Brendan stood up and blessed the harbour before they disembarked. And the rocks were like high waIls on either side of it.

And after they had landed, Brendan said to his company: "Take (nothing), not even a few of your clothes, out of the boat."

56As they were traversing the island after this, they saw a little dog coming to meet them, which fawned at the feet of Brendan.

Brendan said to the brethren: "Is not this a good messenger that God has sent you? Follow it, till it leads you home."

And the brethren were following it as Brendan bade.

And he said to them: "Take good heed that the evil spirit beguile you not; and I myself see the adversary inciting (one of) the three brethren who followed us from the monastery to commit theft. And pray ye earnestly for the soul of one of the three, for his body is in the power of the devil."

And the house in which they were was indescribably long and wide, with many chased vessels and gold-mounted bridles in it.

57And Brendan said to the clerk who was wont to distribute their portion to them: "Serve to us the portion which God has sent us."

And the clerk arising quickly found the boards spread with a covering of all various colours, and bread of a strange whiteness, and a quantity of excellent fish.

Then Brendan blessed the board, and said to the brethren: "Do honour and reverence to Almighty God, who satisfieth all creatures with food and drink."

Then they seated themselves at the board, and gave great praise to God, and blessed the drink and food, and ate as much as sufficed them.

58And when they had finished their supper, Brendan said to them: "My brothers," said he, "take sleep and rest, for ye are weary after your travel and voyage."

And when they had fallen asleep, Brendan saw the evil spirit as a hideous little creature, with a golden bridle in his hand, which he threw into the bosom of one of the brethren. The brother awoke from his sleep and prayed to God till the morrow came; and when the day arrived, Brendan said to his company: "Let us proceed to our work, that is to our (canonical) hours," and they did so.

And when they had finished their hours, Brendan said to them: "Let us make for our boat now."

And when they arose from their beds they found the same boards set as was customary. And they were on this wise to the end of three days and three nights.

59After this Brendan and his company prepared to set forth; and he said to the brethren: "See, dear friends, that none of you hath taken anything belonging to this island in which we are."

They all said: "Mary forbid, dear father, that any theft should stain our journey."

Brendan said: "There is a golden bridle under the armpit of the brother of whom I spoke to you last night, a theft which the devil gave him."

When the brother heard this, he cast the bridle from him, and prostrated himself before Brendan, and said: "O beloved father, I have sinned beyond doubt; but pity me, and pray for my soul that my soul and body be not damned."

60When the brethren heard this, they fell on their knees, and prayed for the soul of the brother. And when they rose from their prayers, theysaw the little dark hideous man falling from the bosom of the brother with loud lamentations, and this is what he kept saying: "Why hast thou expelled me, O cleric, from the inheritance and abode wherein I have been dwelling for seven years?"

Brendan answered him and said: "I command thee in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not to torment or trouble any single human being till the Day of Judgement."

The devil then departed.

61Brendan said further to the brother: "Receive the body and blood of thy Lord Jesus Christ, for it is now that thy soul shall part from thy body, and in this spot is the place of thy burial; and as to one of the brothers who came with thee from the monastery, it is in hell that his resurrection will be very shortly."

Then the brother's spirit departed from him after he had received the Sacrament, and angels came to meet him, and took him with them to heaven. And his body was afterwards buried honourably by Brendan and his company.

62And after this they went themselves to the shore where their boat was; and as Brendan was entering his boat, a youth met him carrying one vessel full of bread, and another full of water; and he said to them: "Receive this present at the hands of your servant, for ye have a long journey before you. However, ye shall have no lack of bread or water till Easter."

Having bidden farewell to one another they entered their boats, and were voyaging on the ocean for some time afterwards.


63One day as they were traversing the ocean, they saw an island at some distance from them. And they steered their boat towards it, and landed on it. And on making a circuit of the island, they found goodly streams full of fish in it.

Brendan said to the brethren: "Let us perform divine service here, and consecrate the immaculate Lamb to God, for to-day is the Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ."

And they remained thus till Easter Eve; and they found numerous herds of sheep, large and pure white, so that they could hardly see the ground through them for the multitude of the sheep.

Brendan said to them: "Take with you, brethren, from yonder herds as much as ye require for Easter."

The brethren then took one of the sheep; and as they were binding it, the (other) sheep followed them thenceforth.

64So they prepared all things that they needed against the venerable day of Easter. Then they saw one coming towards them, bearing a vessel full of bread, and with it all that they needed for their consumption.

He set it down before Brendan, and then threw himself on the ground, and wept bitterly (lit. repented earnestly), and said: "O father, though I am not worthy to feed thee with the work of my hands, accept (this) food of me in these holy days."

65And Brendan raised him from the ground, and kissed him, and asked him: "Where has our Lord Jesus Christ ordained for us to celebrate Easter?"

The holy man answered him and said: "Here are ye to keep (lit. hear) this Saturday and vigil, and on yonder island that ye now see in the offing shall ye celebrate the Easter Masses."

And having said thus he began to render the service (of the day, i.e. the foot washing) to Brendan and the other brethren. And after this they filled their boats with such things as they required.

The man then said to Brendan: "Ye cannot carry anything more in your boats; but after eight days I will send you all that ye will need of food and drink till Pentecost."

66Brendan said to him: "Knowest thou where we shall be after eight days?"

The holy man said: "Ye will be on that island that ye see yonder to-night, and to-morrow till midday; and then ye shall go to the island which is called the Paradise of Birds, and remain there till the octave of Pentecost."

Brendan said: "What makes yonder sheep so large, living as they do in this island?" for each sheep of them was bigger than a fatted ox.

The holy man said: "The reason is that no milk is ever collected from them, nor are their fleeces ever sheared, and no winter or darkness ever comes upon them. And therefore it is that they are of that excessive size, owing to their being always out at grass. Therefore they are larger here than in any other land in the world."


67Brendan then put out from land, and rowed with his company till they reached the Paradise of Birds. And when they reached this island they landed there. And the island was extraordinary in appearance, for there were many excellent fruits there, and marvellous birds discoursing joyously from the tops of their trees, and little bees gathering and collecting their harvest and household store for their own dwellings, and strangely beautiful streams flowing there, full of wondrous jewels of every hue. And there were many churches there, and a monastery in the middle of the island full of an excellent variety of things of every hue; and a venerable wise decorous and devout order in it.

68And thus was this monastery, with its own light burning in it, to wit four lights before the high altar, and three before the middle altar. And their chalices were made of crystal. And there were fourteen seats opposite one another in the choir, and the abbot's place in the middle between them; and when the abbot began to recite a verse the choir responded humbly, and none of them dared to recite a single verse except the abbot himself; and none spoke without permission, except when they were praising the Lord, unless the abbot permitted; and even then they did not speak in words, but by making it known by some intelligible sign with eye, or lip, or hand, to indicate what they desired to say. And the abbot would write on a tablet with a style every answer that he gave them.

69And the abbot said to Brendan after this: "It were time for us to seek our dormitory."

Thereupon they went to compline; and after reciting compline the brethren went to their separate cells, and took Brendan's company with them, each brother taking one of them.

70And Brendan and the abbot remained in the minster; and while they were there Brendan asked the abbot how men still in human flesh could maintain such silence and quiet.

The abbot answered him with humility, and said: "I confess before Christ that it is four score years since we came to this place, and none of us has spoken to another with human voice, save when we are praising the Lord; but it is (only) through sign of finger or eyes that speech is manifested between us. And further there has been no sickness of body or soul or spirit on any of us all that time."

71On hearing this Brendan spoke with tears, and said: "May we remain here for the space of a year?"

The abbot said: "Ye may indeed. Dost thou not know what was ordained for thee to do before thou camest hither? For thou must needs return to thine own place with thy fourteen brethren; and as to the two others that joined thee later, one of them will go to his pilgrimage to the island called the island of Antonius [or Antorius: oilen da ngoirter Antorii/Antonii], and the other (will go) to an evil death, for he will be damned to hell."

And all this was fulfilled.

72Brendan asked: "Who extinguishes yonder lights when morning comes?"

The abbot said: "Consider for thyself, O Brendan, each thing of them according to thine own wisdom and knowledge. Dost thou not see the lights burning brightly without aught of them being consumed, and without exhausting themselves? And they will remain so till morning, and no one will see any remains left of them from the beginning of day till they come in the shape of fiery arrows through yonder window, to which they come habitually."

Brendan said: "How can an incorporeal creature cause a corporeal light?"

The abbot answered him, and said: "Hast thou not heard, and hast thou not read of the bush that burned on Mount Sinai all the night, yet on the morrow no diminution or defect appeared in it?"

73And they remained thus till morning; and then Brendan sought permission to depart; but the saint did not grant it to him, but said: "Thou must remain with us till we celebrate (lit. hear) the coming Christmas, that ye may console us till the octave of the Epiphany."

Brendan and the brethren remained for this period in the island called the Island of Ailbe. And when this time was fulfilled, Brendan bade farewell to the abbot and to the brethren there, and went to his boats, and they were traversing the ocean till the beginning of the following Lent.


74One day when they were travelling over the azure-rimmed abyss, they saw an island some distance off, and they began to make for it joyfully, for till then they had not seen an island for a long time, and their provisions had been exhausted three days previously. And they landed on the island, and found a clear bright fountain there, and abundance of every herb also, and many kinds of fish swimming to and fro in the stream that flowed down from the fountain towards the sea.

Brendan said: "Of a surety," said he, "God hath given you comfort after your labour; and take as much as ye need of the fish, and gather as many herbs as ye please."

The brethren began eagerly to drink the water of the river, and to gather herbs as their master bade them.

75Brendan said to them: "Take heed, brethren, that ye drink not much of the water, lest ye be upset thereby more than ye are at present."

But the brethren did not abide by the command of their father, but drank abundantly, some drinking two draughts, some three, while the third part drank one draught. And thus were they affected by the drink; some of them fell into a sleep and torpor of three days and three nights, and a sleep of two days and nights fell on others of them, and sleep and torpor of a day and a night on the third part of them. Then was Brendan earnestly entreating the Lord on behalf of his company, because it was through ignorance this danger had befallen them.

76And when this time had passed, Brendan said to his company: "Seeing that God has given us abundance, but ye have turned it into want for us, let us quit this island now, and take with you as much as ye please of the fish and the water (sufficient to last) for the space of three days and three nights."

And they did as Brendan bade, and filled the boat with the things the father had said to them. And after this they moved over the surface of the sea, and a great tempest fell upon them. At the end of three days and three nights after their quitting the above-mentioned island, the storm and foul weather ceased, and the sea was made calm for them.

And Brendan said to them: "Take your crew (a mistake for oars) into the boat, and let God direct us to whatever place He pleases."

And they were on this wise for the space of twenty days and twenty nights.


77Then they saw an island in the distance, and Brendan asked his company: "Do ye recognize yonder island that we see now?" said he.

"We do not indeed," said they.

"It is otherwise with me," said Brendan; "Yonder is the island on which we were last year on the day of the Lord's Supper, and on it is the procurator with whom we were."

When the brethren heard this, they began to row furiously.

78And Brendan said to them: "Do not vex and rack your limbs. Is not God our Pilot and our Shipman? Let Him bring us to whatever place He will."

And they did as Brendan bade; for they let the boat drift, and God steered them to the island of the procurator. And when they had landed, the procurator came to them with great joy; and kissed the feet of Brendan and of the brethren, and began loudly to praise the Lord. And when he had finished his praise, he speedily prepared a bath for them, for it was the day of the Lord's Supper at that time. And he clad them all with new garments, and they celebrated the Lord's Passion there till Easter Eve.

79And when they had recited the service for Saturday, the procurator said to Brendan: "Embark, and keep (lit. hear) Easter as thou didst last year. And from Easter onwards go ye to the Paradise of Birds, and take with you what ye need of food and drink. And I will pay you a visit on the second Sunday that is coming."

The brethren departed at this saying to the island where they had made their Easter the previous year.


80And they departed thence to the Paradise of Birds, and stayed there till the octave of Pentecost. And the procurator came to them as he had promised, and brought with him all things which they required; and they greeted one another right joyfully, as they were wont.

81And when they sat down to table, a bird alighted that moment on the prow of the ship, and made music sweet as an organ with its wings, beating them on the sides of the boat. And Brendan perceived that it was telling something; and the bird said:

"Four seasons have been ordained for you during the time of your journey, to wit, the day of the Lord's Supper with the procurator, Easter on the back of the monster, and from Easter to Pentecost with us, and Christmas in the isle of Ailbe up to Mary's feast of Candlemas. And at the end of the seventh year ye shall be borne to the land which ye are seeking, and ye shall be there forty days, and after that ye shall be borne to your own land."

On hearing this Brendan bowed himself to the ground, and wept and cried (lit. repented) and gave praise and thanks to God, the Creator of all things. Then when they had finished all these things, the bird returned to its own place.

82The procurator said: "I will leave you now, and will come to you again together with all things, that ye will require, as the Holy Procurator came to the apostles of old."

The procurator then departed leaving his blessing with Brendan and the rest; and Brendan remained there during the time appointed him. And when this time expired, Brendan prepared to set forth, and was putting out from the land, when he saw the procurator coming to him with a boat full of provisions, and he gave these to Brendan, and then returned himself the way by which he came. And Brendan was thus on the ocean for the space of forty days and forty nights.


83When, however, Easter drew near, Brendan's company began say to him that he should land for the celebration of Easter.

"God is able," said Brendan, "to find a land for us in any place He pleases."

When then Easter came, a great whale raised its shoulders high above the surface of the waves, so that it formed dry land, And then they landed, and celebrated Easter on it. And they were there one day and two nights. When they had entered their boats, the whale dived into the sea at once. However, it was thus that they celebrated Easter to the end of seven years on the back of the sea monster. For when it was near Easter each year, it would lift its back above the sea, forming regular dry land.


84Now on one occasion when they were on the wondrous azure-rimmed ocean, they saw deep floodlike currents and black vast whirlpools, Then it seemed as if the boats must be swamped by the greatness of the storm. Each of them began to look in Brendan's face, for the danger in which they were was wondrous great.

Brendan lifted up his voice on high, and said: "It is enough, O thou great sea, that I be drowned, but spare this company."

Then the sea became calm at once, and the boiling of the whirlpools abated, and from that time forth it has never injured anyone.


85One day when they were on the sea, the devil came in an accursed and dreadful form, and settled on the mast in front of Brendan, and none of them saw him save Brendan only. Brendan then asked the devil why he had come before his proper time, that is before the time of the great resurrection, the Day of Judgement?

The devil said at once: "To be tortured in the depths of this black dark sea am I come."

Brendan then asked him: "How so? where is that infernal place?"

"Sad is that," said the devil; "no one can see it and survive."

However, the devil showed Brendan the door of hell, and he saw its pains and misery.

86Then his company asked the holy monk: "Who art thou talking with?" said they.

Brendan told them what he saw, and told hem some small portion of the pains which, as we have said, he saw, as is found in the writings of the Old Testament.

Then said one of his company to Brendan: "Let me see some of those pains."

On being permitted to see the varied pains of hell, he died forthwith, and said as he expired: "Woe, woe", said he, "for all who have come, and come, and shall come into this prison."

Thereupon Brendan prayed, and restored to life his companion who had died.


87They had not gone far from there when they found a fair young maiden, with golden tresses, as white as snow or the foam of the wave, lying dead from the thrust of a spear which had entered between her shoulders and come out between her two breasts. Vast was the size of the maiden, she was a hundred feet high, nine feet between her breasts, her nose was four feet long, and her middle finger seven feet long. Brendan restored her to life, and baptizes her at once. He asked her further of her race.

She said: "I am of the dwellers in the sea," said she; "the folk who pray and entreat for resurrection."

Brendan asked her which she preferred: "Wilt thou go to heaven at once, or to thy country?"

She answered in a language, which no one but Brendan understood, and said: "To heaven in sooth," said she, "for I hear the voices of the angels praising together the mighty Lord."

So after receiving the body and blood of Christ, she died there without a struggle, and was buried honourably by Brendan.


88One day they were on the sea, rowing prosperously, when they saw a beautiful island, very lofty, but could not find any practicable harbour by which to enter it. Brendan's company said to him that they should continue coasting round it for a week. They did so, but could not effect an entrance all that time. They heard, however, in it the voices of men praising the Lord, and saw in it a fair and noble church. After hearing the sound of the voice of the island folk, Brendan and his company slept a spiritual sleep.

89And as they were not admitted to the island, a waxed tablet was let down to them with writing on it to this effect: "Labour not to enter this island, for ye will never enter it. But the island which ye seek, ye shall find, and this is not it. Depart to thine own land, O Brendan, for there are many seeking thee there, who would fain see thee.

"And search the Holy Scriptures, in which it is said: 'Many are the mansions of God'; as if it said: 'Many places and abodes has the Lord besides this island.'"

After this they turn away from the island, taking with them that waxed tablet as a sign of the island-folk's welcome and care for them; and it was read aloud to them every day, as if it had been from God that it was sent to them.


90One day they were on the ocean, rowing, when a violent thirst seized them, so that they well nigh died. Then they saw fair streams of water distilling and dropping from the crags.

The brethren asked: "May we drink some of yonder water?" said they.

"Bless it first," said Brendan, "to ascertain what it is".

When they had blessed the water and chanted 'Alleluia' over it, the streams dried up at once, and they saw the devil darting from the water, and he would kill all who drank of it. Thus were Brendan's company saved by his power, and their thirst vanished at once. And the place was closed upon the devil, that he might do no harm to any man thenceforth.


91Now when Brendan had been five years on this voyage, he returned to his own land and country, as was enjoined him in the island we spoke of. Then the people of his land and tribe came to meet him, and were asking him what profit he had had of his boats; and they gave gifts and treasures to him as to God. And many of them forsaking the world followed Christ. And he did many mighty works and miracles there, and sick folk and prisoners were made whole, and demons and vices were expelled. He then addressed himself to his foster-father, Bishop Erc.

92He next went to the place where his foster-mother, Ita, was, and asked her what he should do with reference to his voyage.

Ita gave him welcome as she would have bidden welcome to Christ and His apostles, and said to him: "Ah, dearly beloved son, why didst thou go on thy journey without taking counsel with me? For the country which thou art seeking from God, ye will never find on these dead soft skins, for it is a holy consecrated land, and no blood of man was ever shed in it. But let timber boats be made by thee. Belike thou wilt find that land on this wise."

Thereupon Brendan went into the region of Connaught, and an excellent large boat was made by him, and he embarked with his company and people; and they took various herbs and seeds to store the boat withal, and wrights and smiths who had prayed Brendan to let them go with him.


93Then Brendan and his company went back again over the surface of the sea and great ocean. They had not been long on this voyage when a sudden sickness seized their smith, and he was at the point of death.

Brendan said to him: "Why dost thou wonder?" said he. "Depart to the heavenly kingdom as thou hast ever sought for thyself up to this time; or if thou desirest to remain longer in the world, I will pray to God for thee, and He will be thy health."

The smith said: "I hear the voice of the Lord calling me."

94When he had received the body of Christ, and His flesh and blood, he went to heaven. There was then a great questioning among the brethren where they could effect the burial of the corpse, for there was no strand or land near them.

Then Brendan bade them bury him in the waves of the sea: "For He who made heaven and earth and the other elements has power over the waves of the sea to fix the corpse immovably in them."

So then the smith was buried among the waves of the sea without drifting to land, and without rising to the surface of the brine, without moving in any direction, as if he were in the ground; as one said:

They bury him, though it was wondrous,
The smith in the ocean;
Amid the waves of the wild sea,
Without sinking under the roar of the billows.


95After leaving this place they saw a little insignificant country near them. And as they were landing there, the harbour was filled with demons in the shapes of dwarfs and leprechauns opposing them, whose faces were black as coal.

Then said Brendan: "Let go the anchor, for no one can enter this land but one who shall wage human war against demons, and shed blood over them."

They remained there till the end of seven days and seven nights, and they could not draw up their anchor, and they left it there, stuck between the rocks, and then quitted the harbour.

96So they were in sore straits for want of their anchor, and for the loss of the smith who could have made one for them.

Then said Brendan to a priest of his company: "Do thou," said he, "the work of the smith for us to the end of a month,"

So Brendan blessed the hands of the priest, for he had never previously learnt smith's craft. Then, however, the priest made an admirable anchor, and there was never found either before or since anything to compare with it for excellence of workmanship.


97Another day as Brendan was voyaging on the ocean he saw a great hellish mountain which appeared full of clouds and smoke about its summit. And the wind carried them with irresistible force to the shore of the island whereon the mountain was, so that the boat was close to land. And the brink of the island was of an appalling height, so that they could scarcely see (the top of) it, and it appeared full of firebrands and red sparks, and was as steep as a wall.

98And one of the three brethren who had followed Brendan from the monastery, left the boat, and went to the edge of the brink; and he had not been long there when he shrieked a loud and piteous shriek, and said: "Alas, my father, for I am being carried away from you, and I have no power of returning to you."

And when the brethren saw this, great terror seized them, and they put out from land, and uttered a cry unto the heavenly Lord, saying: "Miserere," etc., that is, "O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us."

99Brendan however looked upon him, and saw a multitude of demons round him, and he burning in their midst.

And he said: "Alas, poor hapless one, for the end which thou hast brought on thyself, and on thy life," &c.

And after this the wind swept them away, and they drove towards the south. And they looked back on the island, and saw it all on fire, belching out its flame into the air, and swallowing it again, so that the mountain seemed all one ball of fire.


100One day Brendan was voyaging on the sea, after quitting the island into which the brother had been snatched away from him. He saw at a distance from him an appearance on the ocean, and when they drew near to it some of the brethren said that they thought it was a man on a rock; others said no, that it was a bird.

Brendan said: "Cease your disputing, and bring the boat near to it, so that we may know what it is."

When they came near, they saw the form of a man sittmg on a stone, and the likeness of a cloak or other garment suspended on two iron forks before him, and he was being tormented among the waves, the cloak smiting him under the eyes, and he being one time dragged off the rock, and another time being tossed on to it again.

101Brendan asked him: "Why are these torments inflicted on thee? and who art thou?"

He said again: "I am that evil chapman, Judas, who delivered the Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of the Jews. But it is not this place which is my requital, but by the mercy of the Lord, and in honour of the Resurrection I have this ease; and no other relief than this have I till the day of doom. And to me this state is like being in Paradise in comparison with my state at other times, and compared with what will be inflicted on me this night on the fiery mountain which ye saw, where is Leviathan with his companions, and where the brother was snatched from you.

102"There they assail me, and I am smelted like lead in an earthen pot, and I was with them when the brother came to them, and they laughed aloud for joy at seeing him, And thus they do whenever any hapless soul comes to them. And that ye may know the mercy of God, I may tell you now that I have great ease every Sunday, that is from vespers on Saturday to vespers on the eve of Monday (i.e. Sunday vespers), and from Christmas to Epiphany, and from Easter to Pentecost, and on all feasts of Mary. And every other day thenceforth I am racked and tormented with Pilate and Caiaphas and Annas in hell; and I entreat you pray on my behalf that I may be left as I am till to-morrow's sunrise."

103Brendan said: "Thou shalt not be carried hence till morning." And Brendan asked him again: "What is this garment which smites thee under the eyes?"

"It is a garment which I gave to a poor man out of the portion of my Lord when I was His chamberlain, but as it was not mine to give, it turns to my loss now, and not to my ease. And this stone on which ye see me sitting, is a stone which I laid down on the public road when I was in the secular life, before I became a disciple of the Lord."

104When the hour of vespers came, they saw a huge host of demons coming towards them, who said: "Leave this now, o man of God, and know that we cannot go to our comrade as long as thou art near him; and we cannot look on the face of our lord till we bring his special friend to him. And give us our own morsel to-night, and do not rob us of it any longer."

Brendan said: "It is not I that keep him this night. But our Lord Jesus Christ has permitted him to remain this night as he is."

The senior demon said: "Why dost thou invoke the name of the Lord on behalf of yonder man, when it was he who delivered up the Lord to Cross and Passion?"

105Brendan said: "I command you on the part of Christ not to inflict any pain or torment on him to-night."

With that the demons departed from him; and when the day came, and Brendan was just departing, the doors of hell were opened, and countless hosts of demons issued forth and spoke with loud hideous voices, and said: "O servant of God, accursed be thy journey to us, because our lord treated us with contumely because we have not yet exhibited to him his special servitor."

Brendan said: "Your curse shall be turned into a blessing for me; for whoever ye curse shall be blessed, and whoever ye bless shall be accursed."

106The demons said: "We will torment him doubly during this week, because thou didst help him last night."

Brendan said: "Ye have no power over him, nor your lord, but Almighty God only. And I command you and your lord on God's part not to inflict any pain on him now, but such as ye inflicted before."

The demon who was in authority over them said: "Art thou the Lord of all?"

"I am," said Brendan, "the servant of the Almighty Lord, and that which I command on His part shall be done according to my will."

And after these words had been spoken, they raised him (Judas) high into the air with loud laughter. But nevertheless they were bound to fulfil the commands of Brendan.


107One day when Brendan and his company were traversing the abyss, they saw an island in the distance. And when the brethren perceived it they steered their boat joyfully towards it.

And Brendan said to them: "Do not exert yourselves immoderately, for it is seven years since we left our own land to this present Easter; and ye shall now shortly see a hermit in this island named Paul, who has not touched corporeal food or drink for threescore years, and for a score of years he received sustenance from a certain animal."

108When they came near the shore, they could not enter the island because of its steepness, for its banks were high and impracticable, and the island itself small and round all about, and there was no soil on the summit, but bare stony rock; and its height and breadth were equal. And after skirting the island they found an entry in the bank so narrow that there was scarcely room in it for the prow of the boat; and it was still more difficult to ascend into the island.

And Brendan said to the brethren: "Wait here, till I come to you, for ye may not enter this island without the permission of God's special servant who is in it."

109And when Brendan came to the summit of the island, he saw two caves fronting one another, and he saw small fountains dropping from the rock on the face of the caves. And when Brendan came in front of the caves, he saw an aged man coming to him out of one of them, who said: "Ecce quam bonum," etc., that is, It is clear that it is good for brethren to come together. And having said this he bade Brendan call the brethren from the boat.

110When Brendan had done so, the servant of God kissed them all, and greeted them by their own names. And the brethren wondered greatly at the garb of the man, for he had no clothing except the hair of his head and his beard, and the hair of the rest of his body. And this hair was such that no snow was whiter than it owing to the great age of the holy man.

But Brendan said, weeping and sobbing; "Alas for me, sinner that I am, to wear a monk's habit, and many monks with me in the same habit, while a man of angelic condition, though still in the body, sits naked, and untormented with vices of the flesh."

111Paul, the servant of God, said to Brendan: "O honoured father, innumerable are the miracles which have been revealed to thee, which never were revealed to any holy father before thee. And thou sayest in thine heart, that thou art not worthy to wear the habit of a monk! I say unto thee, father, that thou art more than any monk who is nourished and maintained by the labour of his own hands. God hath fed and clothed thee and the monks for seven years out of His own secret treasure."

112Brendan asked Paul how he came to that island and place, and where he dwelt previously, and how long he had endured that life.

Paul answered him, and said: "My father, I was nourished in the monastery of Patrick for the space of fifty years, having charge of the cemetery of the brethren. And (one day) I asked my dean to point out to me the burial place of one whom I had to bury. And when he had pointed it out to me, an unknown aged man came to me, and said to me: 'Do not dig in that place, brother, for that is the grave of another man.' I said to him: 'Who art thou, Father?' (He answered): 'How is it thou dost not recognize me, when I am thy abbot?' I said to him: 'Nay, but Patrick is my abbot.' 'I am he,' said he, 'and yesterday I departed from this world. And this is my place of burial.'

113"And after saying this, he then pointed out to me another place, and said: 'Bury thy brother there, and tell no one else what I have said to thee. And to-morrow go to the sea, and there thou shalt find a boat which will bear thee to the place where thou wilt remain till the day of thy death.'

"When morning came on the morrow, I set out for the sea according to the father's command, and found there as was promised me. And entering into the boat I made a voyage of three days and three nights, and then I ceased (rowing), and let the boat go as the wind might carry it to land. And on the seventh day afterwards I found this rock, and the boat came to land on it. And after I had left the boat it returned swiftly to its own land, and I remained here from that day to this.

114"And the first day that I came here there came to me an animal, called otter, and brought me a fish, and a hearth-flint (?) to make a fire withal, (carrying them) between its front feet while it walked on its hind feet; and when it had laid these down before me, it returned to its own place. And when it had returned, I struck fire and kindled it with the flint (?) which had been left with me, and I dressed the fish, and ate of it as much as sufficed me. And the same messenger would come to me every third day with this refection.

"And I remained thus to the end of thirty years without lack of food or drink. And a stream of water would drop from the rock for me every Sunday, in which I would wash my hands, and drink a draught to quench my thirst.

115"And afterwards I found these two caves, and the fountains, and these sustain me without substance of other food for the space of three score years, and I have been ninety years in the island, thirty years supported by fish, and sixty years supported by the fountain, and I was fifty years in my own land. And this is the sum of my years, one hundred and forty to this day; and I am still awaiting in this human body the day of my account."

116After this the holy elder said: "Get ready, Brendan, to depart, and take-some of the water of the fountain with you in your vessels; for the road before you is long, a journey of forty days to Easter Eve. And ye shall keep this Easter as ye have done in the other seven years, and afterwards ye shall reach the land which is more exceeding holy than any land, and ye shall remain there to the end of yet another forty days. And after that, God will bring you safe to your native land.


117After this conversation Brendan bade farewell to the man of God. and, they receive his blessing, and departed in peace; and steered their ship towards the south, and thus they were during Lent. And the boat was carried hither and thither on the face of the ocean, and they had no food with them except the water which they had brought from the island of the man of God. And they were cheerful and free from thirst and hunger for the space of three days (i.e. partaking of the water only once in three days), till they reached the island of the procurator on the following Easter Eve.


118And when the procurator saw them, he came to the port to meet them with joy and great gladness; and he took the hand of each of them as they disembarked. And when they had finished the office of Saturday, the procurator brought them their supper; and when night came upon them they embarked again, and the procurator with them. And they found the great beast in its accustomed place, and they sang the praises of God that night, and said their Masses in the morning.

119And when they had finished their Masses, the huge animal proceeded on its own business, and they all standing on its back.


When the brethren perceived this, they all cried aloud, and said: "Exaudi nos," etc., that is, Listen to us, O God, our mighty Saviour. But Brendan was exhorting them not to fear; and the whale went straight forward, till it reached the strand of the island called the Isle of Birds; and deposited them all there without loss of any of them. And they remained in that spot till the octave of Pentecost.

120And when the feast of Pentecost was past, the procurator said to Brendan: "Embark in your boat now, and fill your bottles from the fount, and I will be with you and guide you, for ye cannot find the land ye are seeking, unless I am with you."


121One day when Brendan had said Mass in his boat, he and his company saw a great column at a distance from them in the ocean. It seemed to them to be close to them; however it was (really) a journey of three days to it. As they approached it, it seemed to them twice as high, so that its top was near the firmament, and to be all of the colour of crystal from top to bottom, and there was the likeness of an enclosure round it on all sides of the colour of silver or glass. And such was its tenuity, that everything could be seen through it, whether from within or from without, and it was harder than glass, and it was full of great doors, so that a boat or small vessel could pass through any door of them. And Brendan told his company to lower the mast and sail, and to ship their oars, and steer the boat in through one of the doors. And they did so.

122And there was as it were a mile of sea from the enclosure on every side to the column. They went to the foot of it, and were a whole day skirting a quarter of it. And when they had been round the whole of it, on the fourth day they found a Mass chalice on a bench in the side of the column. Brendan took this gift to him as a sign, and bade the monks praise the Creator, because he had caused them not to miss food or drink, for the great delight which they found in the column. And on the fifth day they went out by the same door, and hoisted their sails to the masts, and proceeded on their way.


123Another day as Brendan was traversing the ocean, he saw an island near him, hideous, dark, mountainous, and rocky, with a rugged summit, without trees or herbs, but full of houses like forges.

When the holy father Brendan saw this, he said to the brethren at that time: "Dear brothers," said he, "I am much afeared of this island for you, and it is not my will to go there if we could avoid it; but the wind is driving us straight to it."

124And they were not more than a small stone's throw from it, when they heard the thunderous working of the bellows being blown, and the clang of the hammers as they smote the anvils. Great fear seized them, and the holy father raised his hand, and made the sign of the holy cross towards the four quarters of the heaven round about, and said: "Lord Jesus Christ, deliver us from the folk of this island."

After this they saw a couple, hideously black like the colour of a smith's coal, coming out of the forges, as if they were going to do some work or other.

125And when they saw God's people, they turned back again into the forges, and brought out two charges of molten iron, red hot, which they held with tongs in their hands, and rushing eagerly to the shore, they cast them at the boat. And this did no harm to them, for such was not God's will, for they passed over their heads some distance beyond the boat.

After this God sent a following wind to Brendan's company from the side of the island. And out of the same forges there issued an innumerable, hideous and diabolic band, carrying fiery charges in tongs to cast at them. And where these charges struck the sea it boiled up high above them, like a cauldron or pot over a huge fire.

126And as they could not do them any harm, they returned to the forges, and set them all in a red blaze, and began hurling the red-hot charges at one another. And the cries and shrieks which they uttered were heard after they were out of sight. Thus God delivered His people from the devil's folk, for it is clear that these all belonged to the company of hell. And Brendan bade his company to be of good cheer, and steadfast faith, and to give thanks to God and to His angels. And they did as the holy father, Brendan, bade them.


127One day as Brendan and his company were traversing the ocean, they saw a huge and terrible fish coming towards them, throwing up the waves on either side of him in his hurry (to get) to the boat to swallow them up.

When the brethren saw this, they cried aloud to the heavenly Lord, and said: "O Lord, who madest man and the elements, deliver us." And they began crying to Brendan in like wise.

Brendan said: "O Lord, who madest man and the elements, deliver us, and deliver Thine own people from yonder terrible monster." And he said further: "Brothers, be not afraid; and small is your confidence (lit. conscience), for He who delivered us from every danger, and He who has protected us continually, He will deliver us from the maw of yonder monster."

128And the monster came in front of the boat, and reared itself on high above their heads. When Brendan saw this, he went into the prow of the boat, and lifted up his hands to heaven, and said these words: "Domine, libera nos," etc.; that is, O Lord, save Thy people, as Thou savedst David from the hands of Goliath, and Jonah from the belly of the whale: And when he had finished this prayer, they saw another like monster corning from the west quarter to meet the first monster. And when it came up to it, it emitted a fiery ball from its gullet. And it waged war against the first monster.

129When Brendan saw this, he said to the brethren: "Do you see, dear monks, the marvels of the Lord, and the obedience which the creature renders to the Creator?"

And when he had said this to them, they saw the monster which had pursued Brendan rising in three pieces to the surface of the sea; and the monster that had done these deeds returned to the place whence it had come with triumphant victory.


130Another day as Brendan and his company were traversing the dreadful deep, they saw an island of extraordinary beauty, full of roots and fragrant herbs, and when they landed, they saw on the strand before them the hinder part of the great beast.

And Brendan said: "Dear brothers," said he, "here is the one whose endeavour it was to kill and devour you; and now do ye devour him, and eat your fill of his flesh. And ye will be long on this island; so draw your boat to land, and find a suitable place for it."

And when they had done so, Brendan said to them: "Bring as much of the great beast as will serve you for a month, for the remainder of it will be devoured by the monsters of the ocean this very night."

131The brethren brought the flesh as Brendan bade them; and they in their turn said to Brendan: "O Lord and holy father, how shall we be able to get water in this island?"

Brendan said: "It is no easier to God to give you food than water. So then," said Brendan, "go in to the middle of the island, and there ye shall find a fountain fair of hue, and a multitude of all kinds of herbs round about it, and bring thence an ample sufficiency for you both of herbs and water."

The brethren went, and found the fountain, as Brendan had told them.

132And Brendan and his brethren were three months on the island, for there was a great storm on the ocean, and a violent wind. The brethren did as Brendan had told them, and went to the flesh on the shore, and found that it had all been devoured by the ocean monsters. And they themselves went where Brendan was, and told the story to him, how that there was not a morsel of the flesh remaining, and that the saying of the holy father to them had been fulfilled.

"I know," (said he,) "that ye went to see the truth of what I said to you; and I will tell you something more: We shall go together to the shore to-morrow, and find there part of a huge fish.' And this was fulfilled as Brendan said.

133They took with them as much as they could of the fish; and Brendan said: "Store up the fish, and salt it, for ye shall have a strong wind and fair weather after ye have left this island."

Brendan commanded his company to load the boat with roots, and herbs, and fish, and bade them again bring water with them, for he himself, from the time that he took the yoke of the priesthood upon him, never tasted anything in which was breath or life. And when they had loaded the boat, they put out to sea, and sailed due north.


134One day when Brendan and his congregation were travelling over the vast ocean, they saw an island at a distance from them.

And Brendan said to them: "Do ye see the island yonder which I see?"

"We do," said they.

"There are three peoples there," said Brendan, "one of boys, one of young men, and one of old men. And one of our brethren will go there for his pilgrimage."

And they asked, which of them; and he would not tell them. And as he saw them sorrowful, he told them that the one who was to go there was one of the three brothers who had come with them from the monastery.

135And they went on towards the island, till they reached the shore. And the island proved to be a plain level surface, covered with pure white colour. And there were three peoples therein, and there was the space a man could cast a stone between them. And they went through the island backwards and forwards, reciting prayers; and this is what they repeated: "Ibunt sancti," etc., that is, The saints shall go from virtue to virtue.

136And when they had finished that prayer, two of the boys' company came to them, and brought two baskets of purple 'scalts', and gave them to Brendan in the boat, and said to him: "Taste some of the fruit of the Isle of the Strong Men [Oilein na bfer laidir], and give us our own brother, and go on your way with peace."

Then Brendan called the brother to him, and said to him: "Kiss the brethren, and go with yonder company who seek thee. And I tell thee, brother, that it was in a happy hour that thy mother conceived thee, now that thou hast attained to join yon congregation."

137And when he had kissed the brethren and Brendan, Brendan said to him: "Son, remember the benefits which God has given thee in this life, and pray for us."

And when he had left his blessing with Brendan, he went with the two young men aforesaid to those holy schools. And when the holy men saw him coming, they sang this verse: "Ecce quam bonum," etc., that is, It is good and joyful that brethren should meet together. And they sang the hymn "Te Deum laudamus," etc., with great joy, and they all kissed him.

138And Brendan and his company departed afterwards. And when the hour of refection arrived, Brendan commanded some of the scalts to be brought to him; and they gave him one scalt, and he said to them: "I do not remember ever to have read of or seen so large a scalt."

And it was perfectly spherical and round, like a ball. And he cut it into twelve portions, and expressed an ounce of juice from it on to the hand of each brother of them. And for the space of twelve days he satisfied the brethren on this wise, and the taste of honey was in the mouth of each of them.

139And when they had fasted three days, as Brendan commanded them, they saw a radiant bird approaching them, and it alighted on the prow of the boat. And it had in its beak a branch of rare beauty of a kind of tree which they did not know, and large berries of beautiful fruit at the top of it, and the bird laid it down in front of Brendan, and then returned by the same way.

And Brendan called the brethren to him, and said to them: "Partake of the food which God has sent you"; and the berries were like crab-apples for size. And Brendan divided this fruit among the brethren; and there was in it what satisfied them for twelve days. And Brendan told them to fast as before for three days and three nights; and as Brendan advised they performed this fast.


140Another day when Brendan and his crew were traversing the sea, they saw an island in the distance which proved to be full of lofty trees. And the trees were all of one sort, laden with fruit of one colour and one shape. And no single tree of them all was barren or unfruitful. And when they landed, the holy man Brendan went round the island. And the mere smell of the island satisfied (their hunger), to say nothing of any other delight.

141And Brendan found pellucid fountains there with many roots and herbs (growing) in them.

And he returned to his company, taking some of the fruits with him to the brethren, and said: "Carry some of this fruit with you when ye depart, and satisfy your bodies with the fruit that God has given you."

And they did so; and they remained in the island forty days and forty nights after that, and then departed in their boat, taking some of the fruit with them.


142One day as Brendan and the brethren were traversing a bay, they saw a terrible bird above their heads, a griffin with great claws, and it was fully as big as a mule or an ox.

And when the brethren saw it they were seized with great fear and horror, and they said: "O father, help us speedily, for it is to devour us that yon terrible monster has come."

Brendan said: "Fear not, for He who has delivered you from every doubtful pass hitherto, will deliver us from this danger."

And as the griffin was stretching out its claw towards the brethren, the bird which had brought the branch to them came towards them, and fought with it, and overcame it. And when it had overcome it, it tore its eyes out of it, and its body fell into the sea before the brethren. And when they saw this they praised God greatly. And the aforesaid bird returned to the Isle of Ailbe afterwards.


143Another day when Brendan was celebrating the feast of Peter in his boat, they saw the sea all round them so pellucid, bright, and clear, that they saw all the fish and monsters of the ocean like so many herds of cattle on wide level plains, forming as it were walls round about the boat. And when the brethren perceived them, they prayed Brendan to say Mass in a low voice, that the monsters might not hear the sound which he made. But Brendan answered them, and was laughing at them for the greatness of the wonder which he felt that they should be afraid, when God had so often delivered them from greater danger.

144And Brendan said to them: "Why do ye fear, my brothers? seeing that our God and Lord, Jesus Christ Himself, who can tame all living things, will tame these monsters for us."

And having spoken thus, he said Mass louder than he had ever done before. But the brethren's attention was fixed on the monsters all the time. And when the monsters heard the voice of the holy man, they fled away from the boat, so that not a trace of them was seen thenceforth. And scarcely could Brendan's company traverse the sunny bright translucent sea in the space of seven days after, even with the boat under full sail.


145After this they rowed for a while over the ocean in a westerly direction, and found a pleasant little island with a number of fishermen in it. As they were going round it they saw in it a little stone church, in which was an aged man, pale and sorrowful, engaged in prayer. And he had neither flesh nor blood, but merely a thin miserable skin over his hard and yellow bones.

Then that elder said: "Flee, Brendan, with all speed," said he. "For there is here now a sea-cat as big as a young ox or a three-year-old horse, which has thriven on the fish of the sea and of this island; beware of it now."

146They betake them to their boat, and row over the ocean with all their might. As they were thus, they saw the monstrous sea-cat swimming after them; each of its two eyes was as big as a cauldron, it had tusks like a boar, sharp-pointed bristles, the maw of a leopard, the strength of a lion, and the rage of a mad dog. Then each of them began to pray to God by reason of the great fear which seized them.

Then said Brendan: "O God Almighty," said he, "keep off Thy monsters from us, that they may not reach us."

147Then a great sea whale rose up between them and the cat-monster, and each of them set to work to try and drown the other in the depths of the sea, and neither of them ever appeared again. Then Brendan and his company gave thanks to God, and turned back again to the place where the elder was.

And the elder wept for the greatness of the joy which possessed him, and said: "I am of the men of Erin," said he, "and twelve of us were there when we came on our pilgrimage, and we brought that bestial sea-cat with us, and we were very fond of it; and it grew afterwards enormously, but it never hurt any of us. And now of our original company eleven have died, and I am left alone, waiting for thee to give me the body and blood of Christ, that therewith I may go to heaven."

148He revealed to them afterwards the little country which they were seeking, that is the Land of Promise. And after receiving the body and blood of Christ, the elder went to heaven. He was buried there beside his brethren with great reverence, and with psalms and hymns, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


149One day when Brendan and his company were traversing and searching the sea, they happened upon the little country which they had been seeking for seven years, to wit, the Land of Promise; as it says in the proverb: "He that seeketh, findeth."

When they came near to this land, and they were minded to take harbour there, they heard the voice of a certain elder speaking to them and saying: "O much travailed men, O holy pilgrims, O ye who look for the heavenly rewards, O ever-toilsome life in labouring and waiting for this country, stay a little from your labour now."

150When they had remained a little while at rest, the elder said to them: "Dear brothers in Christ," said he, "do ye not perceive this glorious and lovely land, on which never was spilt the blood of man, and in which it is not fitting that any sinner or evil-doer should be buried? Leave now everything that ye have in your boat, except the few clothes that ye have on, and come up hither."

When they came to land, each of them kissed the other, and the elder wept greatly for his exceeding joy.

"Search and see," said he, "the borders and regions of Paradise, where will be found health without sickness, pleasure without contention, union without quarrel, dominion without interruption, attendance of angels, feasting without diminution, meadows sweet in scent as fair blessed flowers. Happy indeed is he whom Brendan son of Findlug shall summon thither to join him," said the same elder, "to inhabit for ever and ever the island in which we are."

151But when they saw Paradise amid the waves of the sea, they marvelled and were astonished at the wonders of God, and His power when they saw these wonders. Now the elder was on this wise, without any human clothing at all, but his body was covered with a white down like a dove or sea-mew, and his speech was almost like that of an angel. They celebrated tierce after ringing the bell, with giving of thanks to God, and with their minds fixed on God. But they did not dare to ask any question.

152Then said the elder: "Let each of you pray privately without speech of any to other of you, for this land is holy and angelic, and moreover sin commonly attaches to speech, for often in old-world fables is there either sorrow or idle joy."

"We agree in sooth," said the folk.

When they had remained thus for a while, the elder came to them and said: "Let us celebrate the midday office (sext)," said he; and when they had finished celebrating the midday office, Brendan asked that elder: "Is it (God's) will for me," said he, "that I should remain here till the day of doom?"

153But the elder answered him on this wise: "He who shall seek his own will opposes the will of God. And it is sixty years," said he, "since I came hither, and the food of angels has fed me all that time. And my body was wellnigh wasted away with old age. But it was not here that I grew old, but I continue at the age at which I was when I came here. And Christ bade me remain here to wait for thee (another) thirty years in addition to that (first) thirty. And now it is time for me to go to heaven, for thou hast come to me. And when ye have celebrated none, depart to your own land, and instruct the men of Erin, for crimes and sins shall be corrected by thee. And Christ said to me at this hour of none that thou shouldest come to this land with thy family, thy monks and nuns, together with the saints of Erin, seven years before the judgement, and with that marvellous anchor which the priest made for thee."

154When they had celebrated none, the bird which was wont to minister their refection to them previously, came bringing a half loaf of wheaten bread and a morsel of fish for each of them. When they had taken their refection, they gave thanks to God. And when the elder had taken the body of Christ, His flesh and blood, he sent his spirit to heaven, and they buried his body then with great honour and marvellous respect.


155After this mutual converse Brendan and his monks proceeded to their boat. And they departed over the great-waved sea, and nothing unusual is narrated of their journeyings till they came to eastern Aran (Aranmore), having been two years on this voyage, and five on the former voyage, so that they were seven years altogether on the two voyages seeking the Land of Promise; as a certain learned man (i.e. poet) said:

Seven years in all were they
On the voyage - fair was the band -
Seeking the land of promise
With its flocks, a strong subtle turn.

And they found it at last
In the high meads of the ocean,
An island rich, everlasting, undivided,
Abounding in salmon, fair and beauteous.

156When they reached Aran(more), they received a great welcome there, such as Christ and His Apostles might receive. And they related their story and adventures to the people of Aran, from first to last. When Enda and Pupa and their companions heard the story, they wept greatly from the excess of the joy which possessed them. And the people tried to detain Brendan, and agreed to give him a recompense if he would only stay with them.

For some of St. Brendan's subsequent adventures, please see the other part of this story here.

Sir Graham