Tim Severin's obsession with recreating legendary voyages, or providing working support for theories of migration, leads him to build a full-sized replica of St. Brendan's boat and follow his famous voyage.To do this he had to research the probable type of boat that Brendan used, and try to extrapolate a likely route from the very obscure 'details' in Brendan's writings.
Having established that the most likely vessel was a curragh, he had to gather the raw materials and a team of experts to construct it in the traditional manner. The tale of how he gets his experts is worth the price of the book in itself ! The man must have the luck of the Irish to have everything fall so neatly into place (after a discouraging start).
The unravelling of fact from fiction (or our interpretation of fact as fiction...?) took many long and painful hours of studying texts and maps. Given that latitude and longitude were strangers to Brendan, only the vaguest hints of distance and direction were available to Mr. Severin. However, a plausible map of Brendan's route was cobbled together, taking prevailing winds, tides and leeway into consideration.
Armed with this, and a more than serviceable boat, the bold explorers ventured forth.
I won't spoil anyone's enjoyment of the book by going into more detail. Suffice to say that almost everything that Brendan described is accounted for by natural phenomena - giving the lie to those academics who dismissed the voyage as a figment of a monk's fevered imagination.
A very enjoyable read, with Mr Severin's usual hearty enthusiasm pulling you along with him. *****