Yesterday's Myths & Mysteries

Hy-Brasil, the Hidden Island of Giant Magical Rabbits

A misty legend off the coast of Ireland

Hy-Brasil. Legend has it that this mysterious island rests off the west coast of Ireland, unseen by mortal eyes. But is it real? And if so, will it ever be found again?

Beneath the Veil

What’s the most extraordinary thing about Hy-Brasil? That it’s a phantom island, shrouded in mist except on those rare occasions, once every seven years, when it deigns to reveal itself? That it actually appears on various maps created throughout history by respected cartographers? Or perhaps it’s that, despite being on those maps, explorers have never been able to definitively locate it, though some have alleged otherwise.

Hy-Brasil is also known as O’Breasuil or simply Brasil, and exists in legend as a fabled circular island cloaked in mist. Many fantastical stories surround it, such as its most recent and final documented sighting, which occurred in 1872 – T.J. Westropp, along with Robert O’Flaherty and his entire family, witnessed the island appear and disappear. He’d also visited the island multiple times before then, or so he’d claimed.

An Island of Wizards & Giant Magical Rabbits

Giant Black Rabbits Wander Hy-Brasil
Image: jamjar/Flickr via CC by 2.0

Perhaps the most outlandish account of Hy-Brasil is that of Captain John Nisbet. He claimed to have, in 1674, come upon a mysterious island while traveling from France to Ireland. He and his shipmates entered into a deep fog, and their ship landed in shallow waters upon a beach shrouded in mist.

As they disembarked and explored the strange island, they found it to be the home of large black rabbits and a wise, grizzled magician, who invited them into his castle home. He explained, or so the story goes, that he had cast a spell on the island to prevent it from being seen by ordinary eyes – but the spell had somehow been broken. He gifted them gold and silver, and sent them on their way.

Others have told similar tales, alluding to a hidden advanced civilization, with amazing technology and a more evolved population.

The Rendlesham Connection

I’ve written about Hy-Brasil before, though very briefly. Its name is associated with the mysterious binary code that arrived via telepathy into Sergeant Jim Penniston’s mind during his encounter with a strange craft at Rendlesham Forest in 1980.

The particular chunk of binary, once decoded, read “Origin 52.0942532N 13.131269W,” and those coordinates lead to the location below.

Could this be the location of Hy-Brasil? It does correlate with some of the maps on which it appears. If so, does this mean there is an alien connection?

The idea I explored in my previous post on Rendlesham Forest was that the coordinates were sent, in binary, by time travelers from the year 8100, and that they led to markers or jumping points for other time travelers “to assist them in navigating multiple timelines.” Perhaps Hy-Brazil and other phantom islands like it serve as some kind of worldline way stations.

However, on the topic of otherworldly beings, the episode of Ancient Aliens titled “Aliens and Forbidden Islands” (Season 6, Episode 9) posits another curious theory: that Hy-Brasil may be an extraterrestrial base utilizing a cloaking device, and that there may be others. Could these phantom islands actually be alien HQs?

To Hy-Brasil, To Atlantis, To Shambhala

Hy-Brasil shares a lot in common with the tale of Atlantis and other lost cities, but I believe it’s most similar to the stories of Agartha and Shambhala. They say the name Hy-Brasil finds its origin in the name Breasal, the High King of the World in Celtic mythology. Strangely enough, the legend of Shambhala also tells of a golden city hidden in an ethereal plane, where the King of the World sits on his golden throne.

It’s interesting that two different cultures, worlds apart, would share such a similar mythology.

Is Hy-Brasil still out there? No documented sightings have occurred since the last in 1872, and although researchers have found areas of land that may have once been mistaken for an island, it does not seem to exist. Not in any way we can see, that is.

If it does, however, appear once every seven years, then that means it should have appeared in 2012 (a fantastic date for a doomsday, if you ask me) and will again appear in 2019. So if you happen to find yourself on the west coast of Ireland in three years, keep your eyes open. You may be surprised.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.