Our HistorySt Brendan the Navigator
The parish of Coolock is dedicated to St. Brendan of Clonfert, who ranks alongside Patrick, Brigid and Colm Cille among the chief figures of the early Irish Church. Born in County Kerry in 484, much of his Iife was spent working in the Dingle Peninsula, where his memory is commemorated by Mount Brandon. Although he founded the monastery at Clonfert in Galway, his fame is based largely on the story of his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
A 1746 woodcut of St. Brendan and the monks fishing on their voyage
An icon of St. Brendan holding the church and his boat
The Brendan Voyage is a fascinating story of how the seventy-year-old Brendan and seventeen monks set out across the ocean in their fragile curragh in the search of the promised Iand of the Saints’. The abbot and his crew had no idea where they were headed, but were confident that God would direct them. The account of this seven-year journey mixes legend, history and myth, including the story of how the monks celebrated Mass on the back of a whale. Many see the Voyage as an allegory of the Christian quest for Paradise, but others argue that St. Brendan could possibly have made to America nine hundred years before Columbus.
Certainly his descriptions match the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Newfoundland, while in 1977 the explorer Tim Severin’s Atlantic crossing in the replica St. Brendan proved that such a journey was physicaIIy possible.
St. Brendan's Well
St. Brendan’s association with north Dublin is based upon his friendship with Saint Mernog, patron of nearby Portmarnock. Local devotion to the saint was centred upon a holy well, situated opposite St.John’s church on the south bank of the Santry River. For centuries St. Brendan’s well was a centre of pilgrimage, but after an outbreak of fever in 1914 it was closed off. Today the well is a sorry sight, but the ancient Christian traditions of this area live on in our parish dedicated to St. Brendan. The patron and his curragh are depicted in beautiful glass above the church door, in a window designed by George Walsh and presented to the church by the Taylor family of Beechpark.
St Brendan embarking on his voyage of discovery with his faithful followers
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St Brendan's Church