From Tvoroyri to Thorshawn


Tvoroyri to Thorshavn

9th June 2011. - Thursday

Photos - Thorshavn

Photos - Thorshavn Museum

Photos - Kirkjubour & Brandansvik

Up at 7.30. but engine of boat wouldn’t start – batteries flat. Had to get a jump start. Hopefully the last of this problem?

Left Tvoroyri  for Thorshavn in heavy rain but the weather cleared up to just cloudy later on. Forecast for improved weather for next few days The journey was about 30 miles with no wind.

Plenty of cleaning up and odd jobs when we landed, then had a quick look around the nearest part of town. Looks fine, lots of sculpture, Specialising in people with no clothes on. Took ¾ hour to find a shop selling milk!! The supermarket was disguised as a flower shop. The Irish Pub is only a 100 yards from the boat!

Jonathon Wooding arrived to join crew. He is Australian, a professor of history, specialising in Irish, Faroese and Icelandic medieval, at University of Lampeter, Wales.

Thorshavn is the Capital of the Faroes and the red buildings on the seafront as we approached are the Tinganes – seat of government.

I went for a walk around the town with Ken in the evening, this didn’t take long! By way of postponing the inevitable, we went looking for any other pub except the ‘Irish Pub’. The only place (which didn’t serve food) we could find was the Thorshall bar which had all the ambience of Miltown Parish Hall, and only one other customer. One pint and we retreated to the Irish Pub. Pádraig, Breanndán and Jonathon were there before us, Breanndan was talking to a nice Irish-looking girl at the counter and I heard her mention Ennis in conversation.

By the power of texting? the pub quickly filled up, Breanndan playing and Padraig singing with some help from Jason, who appeared with a mandolin. His first song – The Rocky Road to Dublin!

After a while I got an opportunity to speak with the girl at the counter and it turned out that she and her sister spent a while in Ennis before they got married. Elin and Ada Horn, Elin worked first in the Old Ground Hotel, didn’t like it and moved to a job in Henry’s Sandwich Bar!! She had great praise for Henry and Bernadette.

Ada worked with Úna and Róisín Garvey in the cheese business, and loved it. They had great memories and we talked for hours. Ada it turned out, was ‘married’ to Jason the mandolin player. For a finish they gave me phone numbers and address and invitation to use their house to shower and grub tomorrow.

While I was talking to them a crowd of politicians came in – they were attending a ‘conference’ Padraig etc joined their company.

We left about midnight, even though the bar was still open!! Padraig brought some of his company down to the boat for ‘drinks’ but when I got in I went straight to bed.

Didn’t sleep for long because of the squeaking of the fender pinched between the quay and the hull of the boat – just beside my head.


10th June 2011 - Friday.

A slow start after the late night!

We walked to the national history museum which turned out to be a lot further away than expected. There were many interesting displays at the museum, relevant to our project, especially The Skuvoy Celtic Crosses and the Faroese sheep.

The museum took more time than anticipated and because we were a bit late it was decided to get a taxi straight to Kirkjubor (pronounced churchjubo).

This made it difficult to contact the two girls from last night and tell them our plans – they had cancelled a trip home (the neighbouring island of Sandoy) for the weekend, so I needed to tell them of our plans, but how! when our phones are mostly not working?
Also I didn’t have enough camera equipment as I had expected to return to the boat before going to Brandansvik!. But there was not much choice so I went in the taxi.

There are a number of aspects of Kirkjubor which interested us:

The present church with a large mural of St Brendan and his crew, as altar back drop. This is dedicated to St Olav, who may be synonymous with, the Clare saint associated with Dysert  - St Tola. In the adjacent Magnus Cathedral "On a long narrow stone under the relief and forming a part of it, the text says that relics have come from the grave of Saint Tollak."

Magnus Cathedral with the reference to the Saint 'Tollak. This is currently undergoing renovation

From the church there is a stone-paved path a little way above the old wall, and this goes right down into the sea. There must therefore have been great changes in the land since the church was built. But no one knows when this was. This is said to be the oldest church in Kirkjubour, but this is not proved at all."

The Bishops Residence Johannes Pattersson, whose family has been living in the house since the 17th ? century, and  who lives in the house now, told us much of the history. His talk would have been a great video, but the camera battery went flat. As well as telling of the house he gave a very detailed account of the whale hunting, which is a not for money operation, carried out on a community basis. The whale meat is divided amongst all the people of the local villages with an extra share for those who partook in the hunt. He also spoke of his farming, sheep, Scottish Highland cattle, horses, fencing off grazing paddocks, etc

Steffan gave us a talk on the adjacent archaeological site - 'Á Líkhúsi' - which may be the site of St. Brendan's hermitage.
The Booklet on the area says:
"A hundred meters east of the cathedral, just above the foreshore, are the remains of a smaller building. The place is in Faroese called «A Likhusi» (The place for the dead. Lik=corpse). Investigations have shown that this was a church and graveyard. Most of this building has been washed away by the sea. Only the lowest layer of stones in the north wall, 13 m long and 1 m thick, is still standing. On the north side of the north wall there are traces of an annex from which there is a doorway into the nave of the church.
From the church there is a stone-paved path a little way above the old wall, and this goes right down into the sea. There must therefore have been great changes in the land since the church was built. But no one knows when this was. This is said to be the oldest church in Kirkjubour, but this is not proved at all."

It seems that the above account of Á Líkhúsi as well as the text in the other links was written by Simon V. Arge who was known for his antipathy towards the idea of any Irish involvement in Faroese Christianity. In the entire booklet on Kirkjubour there is no mention of St Brendan, except the depiction of Brandansvik on the map!

Right beside these sites is a small bay called Brandansvik. Padraig and Breanndán went in for a swim.

Johanne, who is a cousin of Trondur Patturson, who figured prominently in Tim Severin's book, very kindly drove us back to the boat in Thorshavn.

Some of us went to the Irish pub again, but Padraig, who didn't,  met the captain of a sailing ketch which was moored alongside us. As  a result we're all invited to go sailing to Nolsoy, a neighbouring island, on the ketch in the morning