Explorer, author Tim Severin (80) dies at his residence in West Cork

The explorer, author and movie maker, Tim Severin, greatest identified for the Brendan Voyage where by he sailed from Ireland to Newfoundland to establish that the 6th century Irish saint could have reached the Americas 900 several years right before Columbus, has died at his house in West Cork at the age of 80.

Severin was born in Assam in India, the son of an English tea planter but he was eager to dispel any notions of privilege when he spoke to The Irish Instances in 1999. “We have been really very poor. The tea planters were being not wealthy. The individuals who owned the plantations have been loaded but they were again in Scotland and England. My dad and mom were inadequate.”

He was sent to boarding faculty in England at the age of seven and he later on read History and Geography at Oxford and it was when he was nevertheless an undergraduate there at Keble College in 1961 that he sought to recreate his first historic journey, retracing on bike, Marco Polo’s 13th century journey into Asia.

He adopted that experience 6 yrs afterwards by adhering to in the footsteps of Spanish conquistadors and other individuals sailing down the Mississippi river but it was his final decision to check out and abide by in the footsteps of St Brendan and cross the Atlantic in a leather-based-sure boat in 1976 that caught the general public imagination.

Studying the Latin texts of the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St Brendan the Abbot) which date back again to at the very least 800 Ad and tells the story of Brendan’s (circa 489-583), Severin sought to see if he could follow in the Irish saint’s techniques and obtain a new land to the west.

“I recreated the boat of St Brendan and established out to see what would transpire and it was in that way that I found out for me, the fascination of journey wasn’t just area but becoming capable to go back again in time and it was here that that new dimension opened for me here on the Atlantic,” he afterwards claimed.

Epic journey

Severin set about setting up as close a replica of St Brendan’s boat as possible, sourcing oak and ash from Glennan Brothers in Longford and tanned leather-based from 25 oxen from a company known as Josiah Crogan in Cornwall when he also consulted harnessmaker John O’Connell from Bishopstown in Cork.

The 11m long open St Brendan, built at Crosshaven Boatyard in Co Cork, was produced from ash ribs and oak dunnels, lashed with each other with nearly 3kms of leather-based thongs in 1,600 knots, wrapped with 49 customarily tanned ox hides and sealed with wool grease to safeguard towards the salt water.

“I feel the boat is as risk-free as the individuals sailing her – the query is ‘Can we sail her well adequate?’ and that is the a person of the really great queries – in the number of months out there to us for our trials, can we find out some of the misplaced arts of handling this sort of boat?.”

“I would not be executing it unless of course I was assured that we could regulate to do it – we will need weather conditions luck and we do require favourable winds and we could do without having any storms,” Severin advised RTÉ Information as he surveyed the stitching of the leather hides on to the boat at Crossshaven Boatyard

On Might 17th, 1976, Severin, and his a few fellow crew guys, led by sailing master, George Moloney from Dublin, rowed out of Brandon Creek on the Dingle Peninsula, the place exactly where St Brendan is documented to have departed nearly 1,500 several years before to get started what would confirm a 7,200km epic journey.

Severin afterwards described in a documentary film that he produced about the voyage: “It was the 1st of my key assignments, and it was to check irrespective of whether the tale of St Brendan, which was vastly well-recognised all through the afterwards Middle Ages, could have been true.

“The tale was known as the Navigatio . . . about the voyage of St Brendan, who sets out with a party of monks in a boat made of leather-based, and has various adventures on the way, stops at many islands, and reaches a excellent land far in the West. Some men and women of program have stated he achieved North America.

“When I say that it was quite perfectly recognised, it was nicely acknowledged to the extent that Columbus, when he was 50 % way across, really stopped his little flotilla of three vessels and claimed, “This is about the spot where we really should find the islands which St Brendan visited “.Columbus considered in the story and the islands ended up marked on the map.”

Severin and his crew aboard the St Brendan sailed very first to the Aran Islands and from there to Iona, the Hebrides, the Faroe Islands exactly where they picked up artist, Trondur Patersson, in advance of sailing on to Iceland and Greenland and from Greenland to Newfoundland.

He believed his recreation of the voyage assisted to recognize the bases for quite a few of the legendary aspects of the St Brendan story: the “Island of Sheep”, the “Paradise of Birds”, “Crystal Towers”, “mountains that hurled rocks at voyagers”, and the “Promised Land”.

On June 26th, 1977, some 13 months after leaving Brandon Creek, Severin and his crew sailed into Musgrave Harbour on Peckford Island in Newfoundland and have been welcomed as heroes by the locals who fully appreciated the navigational feat that they had attained coming from Ireland.

But crew member, Arthur Mangan from Howth associated just how hazardous the voyage was aboard the open up boat when he spoke to RTÉ Information the working day soon after they landed securely at Musgrove Harbour following the closing phase of the voyage – a 52 day trip from Greenland.

“We had some fairly furry moments out there . . . off the east of Greenland, we experienced a storm of Power 11 or 12 with 40 foot waves folding in on us in the boot – at a person phase I was up to my knees at one in water – the boat was half total of h2o and we just experienced to get that drinking water out as quick as achievable.”

Severin printed the story of his outstanding adventure in “The Brendan Voyage,” a e book which turned an worldwide very best vendor that was translated into 16 languages even though he also made a documentary film about the epic voyage.

“It was a task which completely adjusted my lifetime . . . Simply because of Brendan, I was able to do a quantity of other projects of equivalent form, mostly investigating legendary voyages by developing a ship of the time and sailing,” he advised The Irish Examiner in 2017.


Among the the other adventures that Severin undertook had been voyages to retrace the journey of Sinbad the Sailor from Just one Thousand and 1 Evenings in 1980/81 and the voyages of famous figures from Greek mythology such as Jason and the Argonauts in 1984 and Ulysses in 1985.

He followed the knights of the Initial Crusade by driving on horseback to Jerusalem in 1987 and 1988 though he rode with Mongol horsemen in 1990 to mark the 800th anniversary of the start of Genghis Khan which he posted in 1993 as “The Lookup for Genghis Khan”

A prolific creator, Severin who wrote about all his numerous expeditions looking for to recreate historical journeys also wrote a series of historic novels, The Vikings Collection about a younger Viking adventurer, Thorgils Leiffson who leaves the frozen shores of Greenland and sails as much as Byzantium .

Severin also wrote a collection of novels about fictional 17th century pirate, Hector Lynch. in advance of turning his hand to a series of historical novels set in Anglo Saxon England even though he returned to Hector Lynch in his most modern get the job done of fiction, Freebooter which was revealed in 2017.

Severin, who died at his household on Friday in Timoleague in west Cork, is survived by his spouse, Dee and daughter, Ida as properly as his son-in-legislation James Ashworth and grandsons, George and Dude. A private funeral in keeping with HSE guidelines on Covid-19 will take put in the coming times.