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The Ghost Island: San Borondon  ( Saint Brendan )

The legend of San Borondon
Is there an eighth Canary Island?

While living or holidaying in the Canaries have you heard the stories about the lost city of Atlantis being somewhere around here?

The Canaries are seven islands... but an eight isle is still searched! It is the ghost island, the mysterious one, the island of San Borondón.
San Borondon is the Canarian name of St. Brendan from Clonfert (480-576). He was an Irish monk who played the leading role in one of the most famous legends of Celtic culture. He went on a journey to the promised holy land, the island of happiness and wealth.

The Irish poem tells that Brendan was a monk of Tralee, County Kerry. He was ordained priest in the year 512 AC. He sailed with 14 other monks in an old and fragile boat which went far away in the Atlantic Ocean.

Other accounts tell of an attack on Brendan’s boat by monsters or island inhabitants: "pelted with flaming, foul smelling rocks". The voyagers’ account reaching the very edge of Hell itself, with great fiery furnaces, with rivers of gold fire – an erupting volcano to an uninformed eye could look very similar.

They landed on an island where they found trees and other kinds of vegetation. They held a mass and suddenly the island started sailing. It turned into a gigantic sea monster, and they were on top of his back. After many similar events they returned to Ireland.

Old map of San Borondon

During the conquest of the Canary Islands in the 1400's, there were many stories about an 8th island that could sometimes be seen west of La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. But when the sailors tried to reach the island it got covered with mist and disappeared.

This island got associated with the island St. Brendan found, and was therefore called
San Borondon by the Canarians. People believed firmly in its existence, and there were even detailed accounts from an odd sailor or two who swore that they had landed on the island and explored it before the land had sunk again into the Ocean. In some international treaties signed by the Kingdom of Castille it was stated, concerning the Canary Islands, the Castilian sovereignty over "the islands of Canaria, already discovered or to be discovered"; just in case...

You can even find old maps of the island in Museo Canario, located in Las Palmas, the capitol of Gran Canaria. This legend is very much alive, still today. And don't be surprised if you talk to some old fishermen who will tell you stories about people who have seen this island...

The island was called "Aprositus", the Inaccessible, and in other versions of the legend is named "Antilia" or "Island of the Seven Cities", cities which were supposed to have been founded by seven legendary bishops.

The archives of the 18th century inform about official inquiries by the authorities of El Hierro, where tens of witnesses declared having seen the bewitched island from the summits of El Hierro's mountains. An expedition in search of the island sailed from Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a result of this inquiry.

The persistence of this legend in the islands' folklore is amazing. San Borondón is still alive in the islands' people imagination. There is probably no one islander of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera or El Hierro who sometime has not looked from the mountains of his island into the sea, searching the lost island of San Borondón in the western horizon where the sun sinks in the cobalt-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Many base on this legend the affirmation that Irish sailors reached possibly in the High Middle Ages the shores of North America or Newfoundland, Iceland and other Atlantic isles.


Best choice, before, during and after the holiday!

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