"Hy-Brasil, the other Atlantis"
Hy-Brasil is also spelled Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, Brazir and related variations. It may be the reason that the South American country, Brazil, was so named. The central image on the Brazilian flag, a
circle with a channel across the center, is the symbol for Hy-Brasil on
The name of Hy-Brasil may come from the Middle Ages term brazil, which seems to indicate a source of rare red dye. The dye may have acquired its name from the legendary island, or vice versa.
Or, the name Hy-Brasil, also called the Fortunate Island, may originate with the old Irish word, breas, meaning noble or fortunate.
In folklore, this island country takes its name from Breasal, the High King of the World, in Celtic history.
(He may or may not be related to Bresal Echarlam mac Echach Baethlaim, from the stories of Lugh at Tara. He was not St. Breasal, although pre-Christian folklore may be the foundation for that saint's legends.)
Hy-Brasil was noted on maps as early as 1325, when Genoese cartographer Dalorto placed the island west of Ireland. On successive sailing charts, it
appears southwest of Galway Bay.
On some 15th century maps, islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil.
After 1865, Hy-Brasil appears on few maps since its location could not be verified.
Regardless of the name or location, the island's history is consistent: It is the home of a wealthy and highly advanced civilization. Those who visited
the island returned with tales of gold-roofed towers and domes, healthy
cattle, and opulent citizens.
The lore of Hy-Brasil is equally fascinating. For example, it is shrouded in fog or perhaps beneath the ocean, and appears only briefly, once every seven years.
The island has been visited by many people for centuries. Both Saint Barrind and Saint Brendan found the island on their respective voyages, and
returned home with nearly identical descriptions of Hy-Brasil, which
they dubbed the "Promised Land."
One of the most famous visits to Hy-Brasil was in 1674 by Captain John Nisbet of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He and his crew were in familiar waters west of Ireland, when a
fog came up. As the fog lifted, the ship was dangerously close to rocks. While getting their bearings, the ship anchored in three fathoms
of water, and four crew members rowed ashore to visit Hy-Brasil.