This weekend’s annual Cruinnui na mBad festival (the Gathering of the Boats) in Kinvara in the southeast corner of Galway Bay celebrates a tradition going back far into the mists of time writes W M Nixon. In the old days, it was a matter of necessity that the fleet of working Galway hookers in Connemara should sail up and across the bay, bringing the winter’s consignment of turf to a region where it’s a relatively scarce commodity.
The healthy mixture of commerce and effectively racing under sail, with festivities at the conclusion of a job well done, inevitably developed into a regatta atmosphere, West of Ireland style. So much so, in fact, that these days, the annual Cruinnui na mBad is a major event, which can attract a fleet of up to a hundred boats.
There’s now something extra to celebrate, as new boats to the traditional designs are being built at a steady rate by Colie Hernon and Peter Connolly and their team in Badoiri na Gaillimh in the Claddagh in Galway, and one of their creations is the central feature in the maritime display in the nearby City of Galway museum.
They are currently working on their seventh boat, a gleitog to be known as the Markeeen Joe. And a fine bit of work she is too, with completion anticipated for the Autumn. But they’ll be well represented by other craft they’ve built in Kinvara on Saturday and Sunday, when good weather is hoped to prevail until at least the middle of Sunday, and there’ll be no lack of proper sailing breezes.