We’re all familiar with the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis, but few have heard of the spectral isle of Hy’ Brasil. This small island is featured on all maps drawn up between 1325 to 1595, and they all show it in the same location. The Genoese cartographer Dalorto plotted a tiny island off the western coast of Ireland; on successive sailing charts, it appears southwest of Galway Bay. A 1480 Catalan map labels the island as “Illa de Brasil”; it’s most often referred to as Hy-Brasil, though its name has many variants: Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil and Brazil. Many historians believe the name is taken from the word Breasal, Celtic for “the High King of the World.”
The island has been shrouded in mystery, literally and figuratively, for centuries — it was said to be cloaked in heavy fog but for a single day every 7 years. Those who claimed to have encountered the island (they are a very select few) reported it to be circular and bisected by a large channel or large river. A few actually landed on the island and reported it to be populated by an advanced civilization with abundant wealth. Some have referred to the island as the Irish Atlantis. The last documented sighting of Hy-Brasil was in 1872 when author T. J. Westropp and several companions saw the island appear and then vanish. [Source: IrishCentral.com]
Geographers have long speculated if this island could have ever existed at all, and many have postulated theories that lend credence to the legend. Whether Hy-Brasil existed or was merely a fable, I think it’s great fun to imagine there really was a phantom island, a speck on the map that defied discovery.