The Ballycotton Island Disappearance of 1878

Last week, I shared the strange tale of the phantom island called Hy-Brasil, which is said to appear once every seven years off the western coast of Ireland. But while writing that article, I almost made a terrible mistake.

I almost included a story about the wrong island.

That’s because there seems to be yet another in a long line of disappearing islands near Ireland, but this one happens to be on the east coast.

It happened on July 7, 1878.

In his book Mysterious Celtic Mythology in American Folklore, Bob Curran shared the legend.

One ordinary day, residents of the seaside village of Ballycotton were shocked to find an island mysteriously appear in the ocean. It was so clear to them, so real, that they could see the island’s forests and valleys. Some of the residents even traveled out to the island in boats to explore the new land.

But as they approached, it vanished again before their eyes.

Whether an island truly appeared in the sea that day or not, we can’t be sure. Not here. It was likely just a mirage, a Fata Morgana, as Curran suggests. But this is only one of many, many curious stories, like Hy-Brasil, that make the world seem all the stranger.


Rob Schwarz

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