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The Brendan Voyage: The Seafaring Classic That Followed St. Brendan to America [Paperback]

Tim Severin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2005
It has been described as the greatest epic voyage in modern Irish history. Tim Severin and his companions built a boat using only techniques and materials available in the sixth-century A.D, when St Brendan was supposed to have sailed to America. The vessel comprised forty-nine ox hides stitched together in a patchwork and stretched over a wooden frame. This leather skin was only a quarter of an inch thick. Yet Severin and his crew sailed Brendan from Brandon Creek in Dingle to Newfoundland, surviving storms and a puncture from pack ice. "The Brendan Voyage" is Tim Severin's dramatic account of their journey. This new edition of a book already translated into twenty-seven languages introduces a new generation of readers to an enduring classic. Tim Severin didn't prove St Brendan reached America, only that he could have, that it was possible. Brilliantly written, "The Brendan Voyage" conveys unforgettably the sensation of being in a small, open boat in the vastness of the North Atlantic, visited by inquisitive whales, reaching mist-shrouded landfalls, and receiving a welcome from seafaring folk wherever the crew touched land.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Gill & Macmillan Ltd (1 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0717139271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0717139279
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 245,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Severin, explorer, film-maker and lecturer, has made many expedition from his crossing of the Atlantic in a medieval leather boat in The Brendan Voyage to, most recently, In Search of Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe. He has won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Book of the Sea Award, a Christopher Prize, and the literary medal of the Academie de la Marine.

Product Description

About the Author

Tim Severin is an explorer, traveller, author, film-maker and lecturer. In addition to The Brendan Voyage, he has also travelled in pursuit of the legends of Sinbad the Sailor, Jason and Argonauts, Ulysses, Genghis Khan, Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe. He has won numerous book awards, the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Livingstone medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He has Honorary Doctorates of Letters from University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin, and lives in West Cork.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant re-creation of 'mythical' voyage 23 Feb 2003
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
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. *****
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is one of my favourite travel books. Tim Severin and his crew set out to sail the Atlantic in a leather boat, endeavouring to confirm whether the legend of St. Brendan and his crew of Irish monks could have been true.Could they have sailed to America centuries before the Norsemen and Columbus? Severin's research is impeccable and his references to St. Brendan's "Navigatio" fascinating, the boat is built and the modern adventure begins. The explanations of sea monsters, islands on fire, islands which moved, etc. are all totally plausible. Severin's book must be one of the classic sea voyages and is totally gripping throughout.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the back cover... 8 April 2007
The sixth-century voyage of St Brendan to America is the most fascinating of sea legends. Could the myth of an Irish monk and his crew sailing across the Atlantic in a boat made of leather, nearly a thousand years before Columbus, have been reality?

Tim Severin staked the lives of himself and his four companions on following the exact methods used by the seafaring Irish monks in constructing and sailing their vessel. Persuasive proof of the validity of the Brendan myth, Severin's hazardous expedition remains a supreme testament to the resilience of the voyaging spirit.

This is the story of that epic journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Great Read 25 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Years ago whilst I was still a schoolboy my dad had a copy of this book. Although reading it back then and being enthralled, over the years I could only remember the very basics and due to the book being lost I couldn't even remember what it was called, or the author. A big thank you then to Marcus Pailing, another reviewer and contributor to the forums on this site. After mentioning this in a discussion he was able to give me the title, and thus looking it up I was more than pleased to find that there is now a kindle version.

The reason for this particular voyage being planned and followed through is quite simple. There is a book, the Navigatio that tells of the story of Saint Brendan travelling to the Promised Land, which we can see would have been somewhere on the North American continent. Although with any stories recorded in writing in Medieval times there is much embellishment and traditions, there have been elements of the Brendan voyage though that have struck a cord, as to being feasible. Thus the idea for the Brendan voyage came about.

This book is about this new voyage, to see if it was possible for St Brendan to carry out such a voyage, by using a boat built like the ones used at the time. Going into the difficulties of building such a boat, finding out particulars and sourcing the correct materials this shows just many people have a part to play in such an endeavour, not just those who actually crew the boat. We follow the new vessel, Brendan, on her voyage. In the end this voyage took place over two seasons, but it is worth noticing that St Brendan did his over seven seasons (seven years), sailing in the summer periods only, and also scientists think that the world was in a warmer climactic condition at that period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An adventure story beyond my wildest dreams 19 Jun 2014
By . Mary
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am not a sailor but I was totally engrossed in this story of adventure and faith, I found it hard to put the book down.
I was looking for a book about Brendan the Navigator but think I have done better with this story of Tim and his crew setting out in the 1970's to see if it was really possible to sail to America in a leather boat! The courage of those men in the face of danger, and therefore of St Brendan himself, fills me with awe. I heartily recommend this to any one with an adventurous streak in them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story though a bit slow at the start
This was the first of Tim Severin's books that I read. Excellent story though a bit slow at the start. Interesting insight into the adventures and lives of the Celtic monks. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Norwichgal
5.0 out of 5 stars Stuning
A great adventure and one in the eye for the historians who insist colubus got there first. No it was a few irish blokes in a leather boat, going about the lords work.
Published 8 months ago by J
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
What a brilliant book. one of the best I've ever read. Tim Severin combines travel, adventure with determination to prove something he holds to be true based on ancient facts and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Charlie O' Grady
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing story - more amazing than fiction
Several stories in one
discovery of the truth behind an early medieval legend - written of by others as fable

intrepid and dangerous adventure by a small group... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Brian D. Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Explores the Brendan myth
Severin's Hazardous expedition explores one of the most epic voyages in Irish history. How much of the voyage is myth however? Read more
Published 18 months ago by chubbagrubb
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting examination of history
Tim Severin and his team constructed a full-sized replica of St. Brendan's boat and set out to follow his famous voyage. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Umbumbraye
4.0 out of 5 stars This could really have happened...
Being from Kerry in Ireland (the home of St Brendan) the book holds an extra special place for me. When I saw this, I just had to read it. Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2010 by patrick
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