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“ Aitkins's rock,” by Captain Vidal, of the Royal Navy, and the delineation of the sub-marine bank which now bears his name, are labours that have in some measure dispelled the mist of enchantment from the navigation of the north-west coast of Ireland, and which the survey of Captain Mudge will complete.
Mr. Hardiman refers to the unpublished manuscript History of Ireland, in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, where the author states that, “ the Tuathdedanans coming in upon the Fearbolgs, expelled them into the out islands which lay scattered on the north coasts, and they themselves were served the same measure by the Clanna Milidhes, but what became of the remainder of them I cannot learne, unless they doe inhabitt an iland, which lyeth far att sea, on the west of Connaught, and sometimes is perceived by the inhabitants of the Oulis and Iris. It is also said to be sometime seene from Saint Helen Head, being the farthest west point of land beyond of the haven of Calbeggs (Donegall). Likewise several seamen have discovered it att sea, as they have sailed on the western coasts of Ireland; one of whom, named Captain Rich, who lives about Dublin of late years, had a view of the land, and was so neere that he discovered a harbour, as he supposed, by two head lands on either sides thereof, but could never make to land, although when he had lost sight thereof in a mist which fell upon him, he held the same course several hours afterwards. This I am bold to insert by the way, because I have heard a relation hereof from many credible persons, and particularly from the said Captain Rich, allsoe in many old mapps (especially mapps of Europe or mapps of the world) you shall find it by the name of O'Brasile, under the longitude 03° 00', and the latitude 50° 20. So that it
may be those famous enchanters now inhabitt there, and by their magick skill conceal their iland from forraigners. Yett this is my own conceipt, and would have it taken for no other.”
“ But,” says Mr. Hardiman, “ the most complete account of this fanciful island is to be found in a letter from a gentleman in Derry to his friend in England, printed in London in the year 1675. The narrative is so curious, and the pamphlet in which it appeared so scarce, that I am induced to lay it entire before the reader. To those possessing strong imaginative powers, it presents an ample field for romantic fiction.
“O'Brazile, or the Enchanted Island, being a perfect rela
tion of the late Discovery, and wonderful Dis-inchantment of an Island on the North of Ireland, fc.
“ Honoured Cousen,
“ I have received yours of the 12th of February, . and the printed relation of the certain cleath of that arch-pirate Captain Cusacke; of whose death all our merchants here in Ireland are very glad; especially my cousen Mathew Calhoon, from whom Cusacke took the last vessel ; which it seems brought him to his deserved fatal end. And in requital of your news concerning Cusacke, I shall acquaint you with a story no less true ; but I believe much more strange and wonderful, concerning the discovery of that long-talk't-of island O’Brazile, which (I believe) you have often heard of.
“ I know there are in the world many stories and romances concerning inchanted islands, castles, and towers, &c., and that our king's dominions may in nothing be inferiour to any other nation, we have had an inchanted island, upon the north of
Ireland, long talk’t of. And indeed when I went first into the kingdom of Ireland to live, and heard those many stories which were common in every man's mouth, concerning the island of O’Brazile (as they called it), which multitudes reported often to be seen upon the coast of Ulster, in that kingdom ; yet I lookt upon it as a perfect romance, and many times laught the reporters to scor; though many sober and religious persons would constantly affirm, that in bright days (especially in summer time) they could perfectly see a very large absolute island ; but after long looking at it, it would disappear. And sometimes one friend and neighbor would one call another to behold it, until there would be a considerable number together; every one of which would not be persuaded but that they perfectly saw it, and some of them have made towards it with boats ; but when they have come to the place where they thought it was, they have found nothing. And many old people in the countrey would tell many old probable stories, how it came first to be inchanted. I confess there were in those days) two things made me little to wonder.
“Ist. How it came to be inserted into many of our both ancient and modern maps (as you or any man may find it is), by the name of O'Brazile.
“ 2d. The other is, what moved your cousen (that you know died but within these four or five years at Glasslough), who was a wise man, and a great scholar, to put himself to the charges and trouble (in the late king's time), to take out a * patent for it, whensoever it should be gained, certainly he and those that counselled him to it, lookt upon it as some inchanted (if any such thing there be) kingdom or island, that, in time, might be recovered. And since the happy restoration of his Majesty that now reigns, many reports have been, that it hath been disinchanted or taken, yea, in the time of the sitting of the last parliament in Dublin (in the year 1663), one coming out of Ulster, assured the House of Commons (whereof he was a Member), that the inchantment was broken, and it gained; but it proved not so, and about two years after, a certain Quaker pretended that he had a revelation from Heaven, that he was the man ordained to take it, with a new ship built by inspiration, &c., and in order thereunto he built a vessell, but what became of him or his enterprize, I never heard, it seems that the full time was not then come. I assure you (dear cousen), I was not then so unwilling to believe it, as now I am certain of it from very good hands, but whether (in the original) it have been a trick of Rome, one of the works and mysteries of Babylon, I cannot say, neither dare I dispute, but this I am sure of, that the time, or inchantment (or what you please to call it), is now out and the island fully discovered, or taken, and the manner briefly thus :
* There is nothing more certain than that a patent was taken out for it in the late King's days.
“There is one Captain John Nisbet, who lived formerly at Lisneskey, in the county of Fermanagh ; this man left Lisneskey, seven or eight years since, and came to live at Killebegs, in the barony of Boylagh and Bannagh, in the county of Dunnegall, in Ulster (a corporation you know right well). This man, Captain Nisbet, since he came to Killebegs hath fraught out several vessels to France and Holland, &c., with such merchandize as the country afforded. And in September last he fraught out a vessel of about 70 tons, laden with butter, tallow, and hides for France, which was to bring
back French wines, which vessel being returning, and near the coasts of Ireland (as they thought) upon the 2d of this irstant, March, 1674, after a inost clear and frosty night, in the morning, about the time of sun rising, of a sudden, there fell a most terrible thick mist of fog, upon the sea, round about them, which continued the space of about three hours, and then cleared up again, very bright. But when the mist was vanisht, they found themselves upon a certain coast, close by the shore, and of a sudden also, a very high wind, driving them still nearer to the land. When the master, and the rest with him (who were but eight persons in all), viz. James Mac Donnel, the master, Alexander Johnson, skipper, James Ross, carpenter, and five mariners, saw themselves so near an unknown shore, and could not imagine what place it should be, for though they knew most of the shores of Ireland and Scotland, yet they could not possibly give any guess where they were. Finding themselves therefore so near land, and some little rocks not far off them, the master gave orders to sound what waters they had; and finding it not three fathoms, they thought it was the best course to strike sails and drop an anchor (which accordingly they did), until they might inform themselves where they were. And having cast anchor, they resolved to set four of their eight men ashore, to see if they could learn where they were, and how to get off; which, after they had taken down their boat, they did. The persons that were to goe, were the carpenter, James Ross, and three mariners, who took with them swords and pistols. Presently after landing, they past through a little wood, and within less than an English mile in a most pleasant green valley (wherein were many cattle, horses, and sheep feeding), they saw a very strong-like castle appearing, unto which they repaired, and