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Saints and scholars set sail on Brendan voyage

A CREW of mariners, poets, musicians, saints and sinners will set off from Kerry next week to sail the route of the legendary voyage of Saint Brendan, with the aim of repeating the spiritual voyages of Irish monks in the North Atlantic from the sixth century onwards.

Paddy Barry, skipper of the 45-foot sailing vessel, Ar Seachrán, and researcher Dr Breandán Ó Cíobháin from Ventry planned the voyage 'Ionramh Bréanainn (Brendan's Voyage), which will set sail from Cahersiveen at 7am on Monday, May 16. They hope to complete the voyage in early July.

Various experts on different aspects of the subject being researched will join the crew at different stages. The voyage begins on Lá le Bréanainn (St Brendan's Day) sailing from Skellig Michael up the west coast of Ireland and Scotland, by the Orkneys, Shetland and Faroe islands to Iceland, and returning by the Outer Hebrides, Dr Ó Ciobháin told The Kerryman.

The most famous of these early voyagers was Saint Brendan (486-578?), whose fame depends on the Navigatio Sancti Brendani and Vita Sancti Brendani, both composed about 800 AD, and for this reason his name has been adopted in the title of the voyage.

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It is estimated that one third of the early settlers of Iceland had an Irish background, and they had a profound influence on its literature.

Iomramh Bréanainn is the effort of a group of individuals, without sponsorship from any quarter, to comprehend the world-view of an extraordinary group of Irishmen, and to gain some appreciation of their spiritual values.

Nowhere is their unique implementation of Christianity so tangible as in Sceilg Mhichíl, which is why it has been chosen as the starting point for a voyage.

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