The Navigatio was probably written earlier than the Vita, perhaps in the second half of the eighth century.
Any attempt to reconstruct the details of the life of the real Brendan or to understand the nature of the Brendan legend has to be based principally on the Irish annals and genealogies and on the various versions of the Vita Brendani.
He was born among the Altraige, a tribe originally centred around Tralee Bay, to parents called Finnlug and Cara.
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He was baptised at Tubrid, near Ardfert by Saint Erc, and was originally to be called "Mobhí" but signs and portents attending his birth and baptism led to him being christened 'Broen-finn' or 'fair-drop'.
For five years he was educated under Saint Ita, "the Brigid of Munster".
When he was six he was sent to Saint Jarlath's monastery school at Tuam to further his education.
Brendan is one of the "Twelve Apostles of Ireland", one of those said to have been tutored by the great teacher, Finnian of Clonard. Brendan’s first voyage took him to the Arran Islands, where he founded a monastery.
He also visited Hinba (Argyll), an island off Scotland where he is said to have met Columcille (Columba).
On the same voyage he traveled to Wales, and finally to Brittany, on the northern coast of France.
Between the years 512 and 530 Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and, at the foot of Mount Brandon, Shanakeel— Seana Cill, usually translated as "the old church".
From here he is supposed to have set out on his famous seven-year voyage for Paradise. Brendan is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to the Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator.
), also referred to as Brendan moccu Altae, called "the Navigator", "the Voyager", "the Anchorite", or "the Bold", is one of the early Irish monastic saints.
He is chiefly renowned for his legendary quest to the "Isle of the Blessed," also called Saint Brendan's Island.
The Voyage of Saint Brendan could be called an immram (Irish navigational story). There is very little secure information concerning Brendan's life, although at least the approximate dates of his birth and death, and accounts of some events in his life, are found in the Irish annals and genealogies.