Hy Brasil

Emperor 101
4th October 2021
The Space Programme 2018
29th March 2019

Hy Brasil

Hy Brasil / Disappearing Islands

A Song Cycle

Women have sung to us of disappearing islands, of freedom on the sea and in the sea for centuries. As our islands sink, and our sea levels rise we hear the call once again: Voices rises with the waves re-surging across the centuries to tell us of freedom and democracy, equality and plenty.

We already live there. But do we even realise?

Disappearing Islands is a collaboration between Irish organisations The Performance Corporation and Westival


* Doggerland

* Hy Brasil

* Black Gang Chine

* Flight 116

Disappearing Islands weaves a stories through the seas of centuries: Bryony Coles groundbreaking work identifying the landmass of Dogger Land that used to join Ireland, The UK, and mainland Europe all the way up to Sweden and now only known as a sand back and name on the Shipping forecast.

The stories of Hy Brasil, in Ireland and Avalon in the UK: the mythical Island that you sail through the ninth wave, of the ninth storm to reach a land of plenty and democracy. 
The stories of Black Gang Chine, the Hotel in Scarborough and the pub in Minehead: all falling amusement by amusement, room by room into the sea.

The terrible tragedy of Dara Fitzgerald: the Captain of the Irish CoastGuard Helicopter that crashed after flying into a real island that had not been translated onto their digital maps.


Hy Brasil / Disappearing Islands is a deep immersion collaborative project. Starting in Spring 2020. During R and D periods, specific elements of the project will be iteratively developed:

  • Female stories and voices
  • Song cycle
  • Crossovers of folk traditions
  • Folk tales of flooding/ history of flooding in locations
  • Parrales/comparisons/links to climate change/ flooding of today and future
  • Hy-Brasil myth
  • Doggerland- the landmass that used to connect Ireland, the UK to wider Europe all the way to Sweden.
  • Maps: Island locations and histories in cartography and digital maps.
  • A potential narrative about migration and democracy.

Partners will work together to explore:

  • Forgotten female narratives in Irish traditions
  • New vocal traditions that combine these close harmony, lived stories with contemporary composition and production methods including beatboxing, looping and interactive sound generation.
  • Create a song cycle that can tour across music, operative and theatre festivals across the world
  • Combine operative practices with contemporary digital technologies including AV, interactive LED Dresses, interactive sound and looping technologies and vocal manipulation with epic staging techniques.

Disappearing Islands Myths / Realities:


Looking out on the wild Atlantic where the Iniskea and Inisglora Islands are occasionally in full view, and at other times obliterated by crashing waves, the story of Hy-Brasil came to the fore as an ideal starting point to create a work. These islands have their own rich histories, including the discovery of a specific seaweed only found on these lslands in Byzantine illuminated manscripts.

The Hy-Brasil story also uncovered for the team an opportunity to delve into female voice. Part of the myth of this island (which cartographers included in maps up to the mid-ninteenth century) is that the Ninth Wave is the barrier that separates the Earthly world from the Hy Breasil, or ‘otherworld’. The legends tell of a mystical place that lay beyond the West Coast of Ireland, far out across the sea. This island was invisible to the naked human eye and only accessible if you managed to survive the mighty onslaught of the ninth wave.

The Tennyson poem that discusses the wave brought to mind the voices of the dead as they come crashing to the surface of the ocean. The project will seek to explore forgotten island related female narratives in Irish, UK, and Nordic folk music and story-telling. This work though rooted locally and an Irish myth, has a deep European aspect to it as there are parallels such as the island of Avalon (part of the Arthurian legend) to be explored.

The island’s history is consistent. It is the home of a wealthy and highly advanced civilization. Those who visited the island returned with tales of gold-roofed towers and domes, healthy cattle, and opulent citizens. The Irish legend of the disappearing island is equally fascinating. For example, it is shrouded in fog or perhaps beneath the ocean, and the island appears only briefly, once every seven years.

Many people have visited the island for centuries. Both Saint Barrind and Saint Brendan found the island on their respective voyages, and returned home with nearly identical descriptions of Hy-Brasil, which they dubbed the “Promised Land.”

Other names for the legendary island: Tir fo-Thuin (Land Under the Wave), Mag Mell (Land of Truth), Hy na-Beatha (Isle of Life), and Tir na-m-Buadha (Land of Virtue). Fourteenth and Fifteenth century maps spell Hy-Brasil as Ysole Brazil, Bracir, and Hy Breasail.

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