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Displaying items by tag: Currach

Three currachs will be launched on the River Liffey this Saturday.

Traditional Boats of Ireland Editor Criostoir Mac Cartaigh has been invited to officiate at the launch proceedings.

Launching at noon from the slipway beside the Stella Maris Rowing Club in Ringsend, a 'few tunes' will accompany the launch, according to organiser and Liffey Currach rower Dave Kelly. 

One currach is a racing version, built in Connemara, used on the Liffey then sold on to a Dublin crew where a revamp took place. The old canvas was taken off in favour of fibreglass, new hardwood and pins fitted and a nice new paint job.

The other two, a two-seater and a three-seater, were built by Ed Tuthill, a Liffey rower, and both built in Clane Co. Kildare.  The three-seater was built during the lockdown.

Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend(Above and below) Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend

Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend

Meanwhile, Producer/ Director Pat Larkin at Misery Hill Films has put together a fantastic piece entitled 'Draoicht na Life' (below) on currach rowing on the River Liffey that features onboard action - plus some sea shanties - of currachs going under several of the capital's low air draft bridges at high tide!

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Currachs take to the water in Barcelona, Spain this Sunday to mark Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The 11th annual Mediterranean Currach regatta is a festival of Irish heritage and culture, run by the Iomramh Cultural Association and the Irish in Barcelona.

Festival founder, artist and currach maker Mark Redden, said crews rowing from the Barcelona club will compete with currach rowers coming from Ireland and North America.

The regatta, which starts at 10 am on Sunday, March 13th, will take place at Espigó de la Mar Bella, near Base Nàutica Municipal de Barcelona.

Currach regatta Barcelona

An Irish culture “showcase runs from 11 am to 6 pm on the same day at CEM Mar Bella outdoor space

“Throughout the day there will be a range of kids' activities: we have joined forces with Anellides, Oceanogami, Plàstic Preciós and Biook, four educational organisations that work tirelessly to save our seas and will offer activities for the young,” Redden says.

“ Koala Art for Kids will do a creativity and art workshop, and for the youngest in the family Mammaproof will provide a playground,” he says.

“ Los Stompers, Nuala Irish Dancers, The Boozan Dukes, Lemon Twist and Aires Celtes will set the rhythm of the day. Irish Dawn Meats burgers and Guinness will keep us all going for the day! “

"The currach is a potent symbol of sustainability. Where the most is made from the minimum and a seafaring craft is made in the most ecologically considerate way possible with locally available crude materials,” Redden says.

“This connection that Iomramh has with a century-old sport that takes place at sea has led us to want to take care of it more than ever at a time when the need to react to the amount of plastic waste dumped in it over the years has become clear,”he says.

“Join us for a joyous day on the coast of Barcelona featuring currach races, Irish music,” Redden says.

Admission is free, and the main sponsor of the event is construction company Kingspan.

“This collaboration between Kingspan and Iomramh has been promoting society's environmental awareness for three years now,” he adds.

More information here

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St Stephen’s Day saw the inaugural launch of traditional Currach craft on the Owenabue River at Carrigaline in Cork Harbour.

Members of Naomhoga Corcaigh rowed from Wesley across to the Otter which is atop the plinth in the centre of the town opposite the Gaelic Bar.

It is hoped to make this an annual St Stephen's Day Event and ties in with wider community plans to turn Carrigaline into a beacon for watersports enthusiasts

Government funding is to be sought to drive the project to fruition.

An initial plan drawn up by municipal district council officials, with the help of a blueway expert, was presented to councillors last May which looked at the possible landing and launching sites for the project along the Owenabue river and estuary.

The plan focused on locations such as Carrigaline Community Park, the two bridges close to it, the town's former abattoir site as well as the Drakes Pool/Rabbit Island area.

Naomhoga Corcaigh members in Carrigaline for the inaugural Currach launch Photo: Brendan Nash

Fine Gael councillor Liam O'Connor, who was the first person to suggest the idea of developing facilities in Carrigaline, welcomed the initial report.

He maintained the ideal site to create permanent facilities for the project, such as toilets, changing rooms etc, was in the Drakes Pool/Rabbit Island area. However, he added that additional parking space would have to be created there to facilitate it.

“It's great that the council has expressed an appetite for this. We should look for this (government) funding for a feasibility study to kick-start this project,” Mr O'Connor told the Irish Examiner in May.

Naomhoga Corcaigh's ethos is to provide access to the River Lee and to encourage the sport of traditional Irish rowing with a bit of craic and beagáinín Gaeilge (a little of the Irish language)!​

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The artists’ exhibition of 21 currachs used as canvases which ran over the summer on the Aran island of Inis Oírr transfers into NUI Galway for Culture Night.

Irish international sculptor John Behan RHA, Tuam-based visual artist Jennifer Cunningham, Mayo-based Ger Sweeney, and Sadia Shoaib, who has been living in direct provision for the past six years, are among those who were given currachs to use as canvases.

Inis Oírr arts centre artistic director Dara McGee painted his own interpretation - entitled Under A Mackerel Sky – which also forms part of the exhibition, hosted by Áras Éanna.

NUI Galway and Áras Éanna will open the exhibition on Friday morning (Sept 17th) in the university’s quadrangle in partnership with Galway Music Residency, ConTempo Quartet.

The quartet will perform a specially selected suite of classical and contemporary music connected to the ocean, composed by Alec Roth, Claude Debussy and Katharina Baker.

The work of Kathleen FureyThe work of Kathleen Furey

NUI Galway drama students will also take part in the event, reciting a selection of poetry by Máirtín Ó Direáin.

A new partnership between NUI Galway and Áras Éanna will also be announced, with the aim of working to promote the islands and the west as places of culture, learning and research.

The university says it has established a new fund to support staff and students who wish to travel to Inis Oírr and use the facilities at Áras Éanna as part of their studies.

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The symbiotic relationship between the Aran Islands and the centuries-old fishing currach is explored in a new installation at the country’s westernmost arts centre, Áras Éanna on Inis Oírr.

The commissioned artists include John Behan RHA, one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sculptors. Behan is no stranger to the exhibition’s theme, having previously created a seven metre-long bronze ship, titled ‘Arrival’, for the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Sadia Shoaib, a Pakistani artist and asylum seeker, has also contributed to the outdoor exhibition, Curacha, which marks 21 years of Áras Éanna.

The work of Kathleen FureyThe work of Kathleen Furey Photo: Cormac Coyne

Shoaib researched the Aran Islands for her piece, and says she was inspired by the traditional woven stitch of the islands and its butterflies for her "Mandala style" depiction of a spiritual journey through layers.

Connemara artist Kathleen Furey depicted a Harry Clarke stained glass window painting of St Gobnait from the Honan Chapel in Co Cork on her currach, which is on view at Inis Oírr church.

Dara McGee, the centre’s artistic director since 2017, commissioned 21 six-foot currachs as canvases for 22 artists in total as part of the anniversary project.

“We had to do something outdoors for the 21st anniversary because of Covid-19,” McGee explained.

“Currachs are made of timber and canvas covered in tar, and canvas is one of the materials that has been used by artists for painting on,” he said.

The fleet of traditional craft were built by Tom Meskell, Eugene Finnegan, and Carmel Balfe McGee,

McGee, who is himself an artist, set designer and painter, said the participants were given “free rein”, and each currach “reflects the artist’s own personality and style”.

Pat Quinn's work for the Curracha exhibition Photo: Colm CoynePat Quinn's work for the Curracha exhibition Photo: Cormac Coyne

He paid tribute to the artists that he contacted from “Donegal to Kerry” for their enthusiasm.

The completed installations form an outdoor art trail on the island to comply with Covid-19 guidelines, while seven of them are displayed in Áras Éanna. The exhibition will continue until September.

Once a weaving factory, the building housing Áras Éanna lay derelict for some time before Mick Mulcahy, an artist, spent time there in the 1990s.

The state helped to finance the refurbishment of the centre, owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht development agency.

Read The Times here

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The currach, with its primitive design of wooden frame and waterproof skin, is the best known of all the Irish boats. By the mid-twentieth century this once common boat was noticeably disappearing from our shores, and rarer still were the currach builders who held a knowledge passed down from generation to generation. In 1968, the National Museum of Ireland recognised the threat to the traditional currach and given the Museum’s role in preserving heritage objects for the benefit of the Irish people, began the process of having one commissioned for the national collection.

When asked by the then Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Dr AT Lucas, the renowned Irish folklorist Ciaráin Bairéad identified Michael Conneely for the job - a carpenter and farmer who learned the craft from his own father, who was mostly self-taught. Michael Conneely was best known locally as Mikey, but he was also known as Mac Johnny Tom Andie (son of Johnny Tom Andie), Mikey an t-siúinéira (Mikey of the carpenter, as his father was a carpenter) and he signed his name Michael Conneely (John). He made currachs for people on the other two Aran Islands as well as the mainland and had the craft well-honed.

Michael Conneely made currachs for people on the other two Aran Islands as well as the mainland and had the craft well-honedMichael Conneely made currachs for people on the other two Aran Islands as well as the mainland and had the craft well-honed

The finished 19 and a half feet, three-man currach complete with mast and sail, over two hundred photographs and video footage documenting the build, along with details logged in the NMI team’s notes and correspondence, have left us with a significant and complete record of the vanishing skill of traditional Irish currach building.

The unique footage, following Michael Conneely carefully and craftfully through the step-by-step building process, is now available to view on the National Museum of Ireland’s website for the first time in an online exhibition called Making a currach – Michael Conneely.

Currach builder Michael ConneelyCurrach builder Michael Conneely

Broken down into nine parts on , the video documents the process from preparing and fitting the 29 oak ribs that cross under the seats and preparing and nailing 20 laths lengthways, to measuring and fitting the canvas skin, which was then coated inside and out with tar to make it waterproof. Despite the fact that people on the islands didn’t ‘get the sail’ at the time, he also fitted a mast and sail at the request of the Museum, made from calico, a type of unbleached cotton that is lighter than canvas.

Despite the fact that people on the islands didn’t ‘get the sail’ at the time, he also fitted a mast and sail at the request of the Museum, made from calico, a type of unbleached cotton that is lighter than canvasDespite the fact that people on the islands didn’t ‘get the sail’ at the time, he also fitted a mast and sail at the request of the Museum, made from calico, a type of unbleached cotton that is lighter than canvas

Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said; “What is commonplace today, is the history of tomorrow and an important part of the National Museum of Ireland’s remit is take an active and ongoing role in ensuring that our traditions and culture are preserved for future generations. The detailed documentation undertaken of Michael Conneely’s creative process in 1968 is a fine example of this, and our national collection is richer today as a result of his talent, and the foresight of my predecessors at the Museum in capturing it for conservation.

Noel Campbell, curator at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Turlough Park, said, “Mikey Conneely was a well-respected currach builder who received orders for his dependable currachs from the Aran Islands and the coastal communities of counties Galway and Clare. We are very fortunate that over fifty years ago Dr Lucas, curator John O’Sullivan and photographer Brendan Doyle saw the importance of recording one the west coast’s currach building masters. The Mikey Conneely recordings and other boat related material from the NMI’s Archive are currently being researched as part of the development of a new gallery at Turlough Park which will focus on traditional boats of the west coast. The National Museum of Ireland - Country Life has begun a new programme of fieldwork and outreach along our Atlantic coast to further document traditional boats and building techniques. The findings will add to our Archive and greatly inform our future work and exhibits.”

Michael Conneely's currach is on permanent display in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar’.Michael Conneely's currach is on permanent display in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar’.

In Making a Currach – Michael Conneely, Michael’s daughter Máire Conneely recalls the excitement from the week the Museum visited their home on Inisheer; “The currach was being made on the sand outside the house, so we children were able to keep an eye on all the work. We were surprised they were so interested in the work, they were writing down every word that my father said. Of course, pictures were being taken of the work. My mother had a job chasing us away, telling us not to be getting under their feet!”

The Irish Folklife collection of the National Museum of Ireland amounts to over 37,000 objects. The collection contains over thirty traditional Irish boats, 19 of which are currachs. Michael Conneely's currach is on permanent display in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar’.

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 An Irish currach made entirely from recycled and salvaged material is to be launched by artist and boatbuilder Mark Redden in Barcelona, Spain on St Patrick’s Day.

As The Times Ireland reports today, “Saoirse” has been built over the past year by Redden as part of a project to investigate the level of plastic pollution in fish.

Redden has modelled this vessel on the Connemara version while using only materials which were recycled or salvaged.

The award-winning artist has built many currachs since he trained with Jackie Mons of Oughterard, Co Galway.

He also worked with Meitheal Mara, the community boatyard and training project in Cork city, while studying at the Crawford College of Art and Design. 

Saoirse” has been built over the past year by Redden as part of a project to investigate the level of plastic pollution in fish

After he moved to Barcelona in Spain, Redden jointly founded the cultural association, Iomramh (which translates from the Irish as “rowing” or “sea voyage”) in the Catalan capital.

The association has hosted a Mediterranean currach regatta on St Patrick’s Day since 2008, but this had to be suspended due to Covid-19.

Redden says he used his time over the past 12 months to forge links between business, science and the art of boatbuilding to create a project aimed at reducing the volume of waste plastic in oceans.

He is also collaborating with a Welsh-based company TrimTabs, founded by Irish scientist Alvin Orbaek White, and scientists from the Energy Safety Research Institute in Swansea University on efforts to convert “fished-up” plastic into high-end carbon electrical conduit.

Read The Times here

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A famed adventurer who crossed the Atlantic by currach in a journey inspired by the story of Brendan the Navigator has died at the age of 80, as RTÉ News reports.

Tim Severin set out in 1976 on the epic 7,200km journey in a hand-built currach from Co Kerry, via the Hebrides in Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland to Newfoundland in Canada.

It marked the first of a series of recreations of voyages inspired by legendary events — which included sailing from Oman to China by dhow in the vein of Sinbad, and following the odysseys of Ulysses and Jason and the Argonauts.

But Severin’s connection to Ireland remained as he made his residence in West Cork, where he died peacefully at home.

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A replica of an ancient currach has been set alight in the shadow of Skellig Michael — and all in the name of art.

The arresting image is one of the highlights of Crann, a film directed by Laura Hilliard which will premiere online next Monday 21 December as part of IMRAM, the Irish language library festival.

As RTÉ News reports, the film is inspired by the work of English poet Richard Berengarten — translated into Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock — and follows the life cycle of a tree and its relationship to the environment and culture surrounding it, including being crafted into a currach.

Promo for Crann, screening online as part of IMRAM on Monday 21 December

Co Kerry boatbuilder Holger Lonze provided the handiwork for the Boyne currach — Ireland’s only river currach, comprising hazel, cow hide and twine — that features in the film. RTÉ News has much more on the story HERE.

Similar themes are explored in a new documentary that follows the transformation of an oak tree into an Iron Age replica longboat, as previously reported on


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When Fergus Farrell was paralysed after a workplace accident, he may never have imagined he would watch the sunrise as he plied a currach across Galway Bay.

However, the former rugby player did just that with close friend and extreme sports athlete Damian Browne this week, when the pair completed a 40 km (25-mile) row from the Aran islands into Galway city.

Transatlantic Currach Rowers

As Afloat reported previously, The row – which took place the morning after Galway city was embroiled in controversy over a large student gathering at Spanish Arch – was completed in less than nine hours.

The pair aimed to highlight their bid to set a new Guinness world record in an unsupported row some 4,937km across the Atlantic in two years’ time.

The two men from Renmore and Athenry have been friends and players with Connacht and Galwegians Rugby Football Club since they were young.

Farrell was diagnosed with a serious spinal cord injury after a workplace accident in 2018.

Transatlantic Currach Rowers

After treatment in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, he walked 206 km from the place of his accident to the NRH in late October 2019, and raised €70,000  for the hospital.

Browne successfully rowed across the Atlantic solo in late 2017-early 2018, enduring nine-metre high swells, head lacerations, a complete steering system failure, a capsize in a storm and a near-miss from a cargo ship.

He completed the crossing in 63 days, 6 hours and 25 minutes.

He has completed the six day, 257km-long Marathon des Sables across the Sahara, and has climbed five of the seven summits or highest peaks on each continent, with Everest in his sights for next spring.

The record of 55 days and 13 hours for an Atlantic crossing from New York to the Scilly Isles was set in 1896 by George Harboe and Frank Samuelsen. They had none of the satellite communications and safety equipment available now for such ventures.

Transatlantic Currach Rowers

Some 11 pairs have attempted to break that record but failed, with six of the 11 completing the crossing.

There have been 52 previous attempted crossings in an unsupported row, with 18 successfully making land in some part of Europe.

Browne and Farrell’s transatlantic bid is named Project Empower, and their ocean rowing boat will be built by master builder Justin Adkin of Seasabre, who also constructed Browne’s vessel for his solo crossing.

Website here:

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