known as Brendan the Navigator)
Abbot, AD 486-577
Like many Celtic saints, there a few historical facts interspersed among the many legends but the stories are often inspirational, and need to be re-told in our era. Legend has it that Saint Brandon or Brendan was born near Tralee in Ireland, and as a youth, became the disciple of Saint Jarlaath of Tuam. As a young man he crossed the Irish sea to spend some years studying in the Abbey of Llancarfan, in Glamorganshire, where it is said that he baptised Machutus (better known as Saint Malo), who is reputed to be the evangeliser of the Celts in Brittany.
Brandan founded several monasteries when he returned to Ireland; Clonfert, on the river Shannon, became the largest and most important of them, and it is said that there were as many as three thousand monks in his various monastic foundations in both Ireland and Scotland. It is thought that his Scottish foundations were on the islands of Bute and Tiree, but his many dedications suggest that devotion to him in Scotland was more widespread. The old church at Boyndie dedicated to the saint, with the nearby Brandon’s Haven, are located in Banffshire, and the old church at Birnie near Elgin, in Moray..
Brandan/Brendan’s name will always be associated with his legendary seafaring skills related in the romantic, but entirely fabulous narratives of the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, probably composed by an Irish monk in the 9/10th century, that tell of his westward voyages and incredible exploits.
Barrett in the early 20th century said that it was beyond doubt that Brendan and his followers sailed to undiscovered regions on their missionary voyages; and possibly discovered America. It was not until 1976-7, that a group of seven men led by the author Tim Severin in a large replica of Brendan’s boat, sailed from Galway via the West Coast of Scotland, following the saint’s route across the Atlantic via Iceland and Greenland to the American coast.
The feast of Saint Brendan, was restored to the Scottish Calendar in 1898 by Pope Leo XIII and is celebrated on 16th May.
 Macquarrie, Legends of Scottish Saints (Dublin: 4 Courts Press, 2012), p.334
 Barrett, M. A Calendar of Scottish Saints (Fort Augustus: Abbey Press, 1919), pp.79-80
 T. Severin, The Brendan Voyage (London, Gill & Macmillan, 2005)