51. Bregia was the ancient name of the plain watered by the Boyne.
52. According to the marginal note of the learned editor, the last four lines appear to be a sort of epilogue, in which the poet extols the victor.
[We are informed that Brendan, hearing of the previous voyage of his cousin, Barinthus, in the western ocean, and obtaining an account from him of the happy isles he had landed on in the far west, determined, under the strong desire of winning heathen souls to Christ, to undertake a voyage of discovery himself. And aware that all along the western coast of Ireland there were many traditions respecting the existence of a western land, he proceeded to the islands of Arran, and there remained for some time, holding communication with the venerable St. Enda, and obtaining from him much information relating to his voyage. Having prosecuted his inquiries with diligence, Brendan returned to his native Kerry; and from a bay sheltered by the lofty mountain that is now known by his name, he set sail for the Atlantic land; and, directing his course towards the south-west, in order to meet the summer solstice, or what we should call the tropic, after a long and rough voyage, his little bark being well provisioned, he came to summer seas, where he was carried along, without the aid of sail or oar, for many a long day. This, which it is to be presumed was the great gulf-stream, brought his vessel to shore somewhere about the Virginian capes, or where the American coast tends eastward, and forms the New England States. Here landing, he and his companions marched steadily into the interior for fifteen days, and then came to a large river, flowing from east to west: this, evidently, was the river Ohio. And this the holy adventurer was about to cross, when he was accosted by a person of noble presence—but whether a real or visionary man does not appear—who told him he had gone far enough; that further discoveries were reserved for other men, who would, in due time, come and Christianise all that pleasant land. It is said he remained seven years away, and returned to set up a college of three thousand monks, at Clonfert.—“Caesar Otway’s Sketches in Erris and Tyrawley,” note, pp. 98, 99.]
[When St. Brendan was an infant, says Colgan, he was placed under the care of St. Ita, and remained with her five years, after which period he was led away by Bishop Ercus in order to receive from him the more solid instruction necessary for his advancing years. Brendan always retained the greatest respect and affection for his foster-mother, and he is represented, after his seven years’ voyage, amusing St. Ita with an account of his adventures in the ocean.]
O Ita, mother of my heart and mind—
My nourisher, my fosterer, my friend,
Who taught me first to God’s great will resigned,
Before his shining altar-steps to bend;
Who poured his word upon my soul like balm,
And on mine eyes what pious fancy paints—
And on mine ear the sweetly swelling psalm,
And all the sacred knowledge of the saints;