Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Phantom City

For centuries, phantom islands have appeared off the coast of Ireland. Hy Brasil is the most famous, but there are others – such as Kilstuitheen and Tír Huidi.
Less frequently, towns and cities – rather than whole islands - have appeared.
In 1864, a city “full of flame, smoke and apparitions of people running to and fro” appeared in Galway Bay. And a walled town appeared at Youghal, County Cork in October 1796, returning in March 1797 and June 1801.
The following, relatively recent, sighting took place off the west coast of Ireland on Sunday, 9 August 1908.
From Ballyconnelly, a town on the wild Connemara coast, some miles beyond Clifden, comes a strange tale which reminds one of the Spectre Island of which Gerald Griffin sang. Last Sunday evening a small town, well studded over with houses, was observable on the sea about six or seven miles westward of Ballyconnelly. Hundreds gathered to witness the enchanting spectacle, which they state was composed of houses of different sizes and varying styles of architecture. Here and there was a dismantled dwelling, as if even this strange land of sunshine on the crest of the western ocean had been the scene of misery and devestation. The crowd gazing anxiously out on the ocean from the shore, wondered if their eyes had not betrayed them, but they had all seen the vision in the broad daylight only a few miles from the shore, and they regard the legend of “Hy Brazil” as no longer an imaginative story from the region of fables. [1]
  1. This incident also appears in New Lands. Fort has the incident taking place one week earlier, on 2 August 1908, and lasting for three hours. His source is Country Queries and Notes.
  • Charles Fort, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, (Dover Publications, New York, 1974)
  • Roderic O’Flaherty, A Chorographical Description of West or H-Lar Connaught, (The Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1846)
  • The Irish Times, 15 August 1908

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