The death of British explorer Tim Severin in December 2020 managed to rekindle his daring expedition in 1976 to retrace the medieval voyage of St Brendan to Newfoundland in a leather-bound boat.
everin’s launch from Brandon Point – reputedly from where St Brendan set out on his voyage in the 6th century AD – is still affectionately remembered as a nod to Kerry’s rich history and its most famous Saint.
Cllr Jim Finucane (FG) is now calling for the boat to be returned to Kerry where it can be put on permanent display and to serve as a reminder of St Brendan and Kerry’s ancient history, as well as marking one of Severin’s most amazing accomplishments.
Initially, efforts in the past to have the boat brought to Kerry failed as there was no place suitable in which to store it and put it on display.
Cllr Finucane wants a purpose-built structure designed that would be established in Fenit to permanently display the vessel. Cllr Finucane made the bid as part of a motion he tabled at Monday’s meeting of Tralee MD.
“My understanding is that it is owned by the Hunt Museum. I would ask that the council officials write and ask for a meeting with the Hunt Museum,” Cllr Finucane said .
“I believe that this is a crucial part of St Brendan’s story, certainly for Fenit where you have the magnificent statue of Brendan facing towards Tralee Bay.”
Cllr Finucane added that by keeping the boat away from the sea and from the general locality where the voyage commenced is out of kilter with the essence of what the boat and the expedition represents.
“I think the interest people would have in it if it was in Fenit would be significant. I propose that we begin a determined dialogue, first with the Hunt Museum, and then with Shannon Heritage. But my understanding is that it is the Hunt Museum who technically own the vessel,”he said. The motion was seconded by Cllr Terry O’Brien (Lab).
In reply, Kerry County Council said the proposal would be ‘very desirable’ and very much in keeping with the St. Brendan story and Heritage Park in Fenit.
It stated that the Brendan boat was donated to Shannon Heritage by Tim Severin over 40 years ago and is now a prized exhibit in their Craggaunowen Visitor Centre in County Clare, where a special building was constructed for it.
KCC said attempts have been made previously to retrieve the boat for a Kerry location but these were unsuccessful.