The island is known for the most part as Hy-Brasil and was first put on a map in 1325; it was made by the Genoese cartographer Angellino de Dalorto. He placed it to the southwest of Ireland and was described as almost perfectly round with a river down the centre. It has been noted locally before that but this is it’s first documented appearance.
The Celtic people put this to be an island of eternal plenty and happiness, it was populated by an advanced civilization and they possessed the best technology and wealth. The island had towers and streets of gold, and it was shrouded in fog, it was only witnessed by the general population once every seven years and if you tried to approach the island you would never be able to fully reach it. Of course there are supposed to be the rare people that did and they came back richer than their wildest dreams. The race seemed to be on to get to Hy-Brasil and claim it to make themselves richer than anyone else!
1480 saw explorer John Jay Jr depart from Bristol, England to try and find it but came back empty handed. 1481 two shops from Bristol called Trinity and George went out and again seemed unable to find it. Several other attempts were made, it remains speculation about their success as there was nothing further noted.
1480-1497 the Italian explorer, John Cabot, made an excursion to find North America but had an ulterior motive to try and locate Hy-Brasil, he was convinced it was out there and it’s not certain if he found it or not. After the 1497 voyage a letter from the Spanish diplomat, Pedro de Ayala, claimed that Cabot had found land that has been discovered by Bristol men in the past, or at the very least he had seen it. The speculation on that one could anything at all from he found it, to he decided to bunk off using it as a reason.
In 1674 Captain John Nesbitt made the biggest claim, saying he had set foot on the island and explored it. He said they had been sailing when a dense fog enveloped the ship and when they landed they were at an unfamiliar shore. They found that it was inhabited by large black rabbits, and there was a wizard there in a stone castle. They returned loaded with gold and silver given to them by the islanders and then Alexendar Johnson followed up his claims saying that Nesbitt was correct with his information.
It seems that despite the hardships of confirming the islands existence it remained on the maps anyways, but the position of it appears to shift and two maps in 1595 show it lying west of Ireland. In all of the maps it was still round with a central river, and then it helps popping up until 1870 when the British Admiralty removed it. This didn’t stop stories about encounters though and in 1878 the people of Ballycotton in County Cork were amazed to see an island appear where it hadn’t been before.
18th February 2012, pilot Niger Gosseur reported a mysterious bank of god along the ocean on the west coast of Ireland, in otherwise clear conditions. He reported that his compass went haywire and that he saw landmasses where he was sure there was none before. Baffled he continued to fly over to Ireland.
One of the ideas put forward is that the island may well have existed at some point and has been buried under the waves. The evidence for this might be the west coast of Ireland has a place known as Porcupine Bank,a raised seabed found in 1862, this for some suggests it is perhaps evidence that an island once existed there. Another theory is that many have mistaken the nearby Baffin Island as the island of Hy-Brasil, this is off the northern coast of Canada. The location of the island has slowly crawled around and changed so it’s possible that it was misidentified and has slowly been corrected over time.
Another explanation is that the island has never existed; it could be an optical illusion. One type of mirage that can account for this is the Fata Morgana, a layer of warm air which sits on a layer of cold, it then acts like a refracting disc and can created inverted images from distant areas and coastlines. Perhaps they are seeing this? Whatever the history/story it’s brilliant idea for a story… and the imagination of many has been captured about the idea of the disappearing island that comes up to grant you lots of cash!
By derivative work: AFBorchert (talk)
1572_Europa_Ortelius.jpg: Ortelius – 1572_Europa_Ortelius.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4785261