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St Brendan backers in bid to displace St Patrick

A Irish priest seeking to set the record straight about St Brendan says that in the middle-ages, St Patrick was not known at all, but Brendan was easily the most famous Irish saint and also recognised as the greatest sailor the world had known.

Dr Gearoid O'Donnchadha told Catholic Ireland that forces conspired to relegate St Brendan the Navigator "to the limbo of myth and legend", with his preeminent position being taken by St Patrick and other well-known saints including St Brigid.

"Kerry people have had enough," said Dr O'Donnchadha. "Properly understood, the tales of Brendan's voyages are true and have been chronicled since 750 AD. These tales weave a factual story using many of the motifs current in Irish tales of the time".

St Brendan The Navigator was born in Fenit Co. Kerry in 484 and grew up surrounded by the ocean and nurtured by good Christian parents, Finlug and Cara. He felt the twin call of Christ and of the sea and answered both, devoting most of his 93 years to mastering the sea so that he might bring the message of Christ's love to people scattered in the islands of the Atlantic.

It is almost certain that Brendan got as far as the American continent though he may not have been the first European to do so, explained Dr O Donnchadha, a priest of the diocese of Kerry who has ministered in Fenit since 1987, and currently works in the Institute of Technology in Tralee.

Next month, the people of Fenit will unveil a large statue of the saint (pictured) which will overlook the town's harbour.

Justice for St. Brendan the Navigator (Catholic Ireland/The Sun)

St Brendan the Navigator (Diocese of Kerry)
Institute of Technology Tralee logo

26 Aug 2004