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Galway Hooker For Sale – The Big Lady Lives Again

25th July 2016
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The Galway Hooker An Lady Mor being re-launched after restoration in Howth by Mick Hunt in 1985. Photo: W M Nixon The Galway Hooker An Lady Mor being re-launched after restoration in Howth by Mick Hunt in 1985. Photo: W M Nixon Photo: W M Nixon

The traditional Galway Hooker is usually a much-restored craft writes W M Nixon. The climate of Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard is cruel for wooden boats built using basic materials, and the shipwrights of Connemara are skilled in replacing bits and pieces where necessary, or indeed entire boats, while maintaining the spirit and character of the original vessel.

The 38ft An Lady Mor may date back as far as 1872, and if so, then she is the oldest boat to come on the books of the Classic & Traditional Boats section of MGM Boats, where Ross O’Leary remembers the excitement when they achieved the previous record, selling a boat which dated from 1898.

An Lady Mor2 1Mick Hunt working on An Lady Mor in 1985

It is well remembered simply because most of their large turnover is in the most modern of glassfibre boats, where anything over twenty years might be considered vintage. But when a community group in Derry who had restored An Lady Mor as a vocational training experience in boat-building decided the sale was necessary, MGM Boats came up on their radar as leaders in boat sales, and now they have an 1872 boat of impeccable traditional pedigree on offer at €50,000.

It all rang a bell with me, as I knew An Lady Mor well in Howth, where she received a previous restoration in 1985 in the capable hands of Mick Hunt, whose brother-in-law Johnny Healion pioneered the Galway Hooker revival in the mid-1970s. An Lady Mor was a fine sight as she was craned afloat in the Spring of 1985, but in those days she was still in the classic open plan which facilitated carrying the maximum amount of turf in the traditional runs from Connemara out to the Aran Islands or across Galway Bay to North Clare.

Then in June of this year while briefly in Greencastle in Donegal, there on the quayside all bright and shiny and restored was An Lady Mor, though now fitted with a coachroof which gives her the bonus of proper sleeping accommodation. In her day, An Lady Mor was one of the more iconic of the Galway hooker fleet, and it’s good to know she has been revived again.

Then in June of this year while briefly in Greencastle in Donegal, there on the quayside all bright and shiny and restored was An Lady Mor, though now fitted with a coachroof which gives her the bonus of proper sleeping accommodation. The coachroof was fitted in 1998 by Ben McDonagh in Malahide - he’d bought the boat from Mick Hunt in 1992 – and with other mods for cruising including an 80hp Lamborghini diesel auxiliary, Ben cruised her extensively with voyages to the Continent. In 2005 he sold her to the group in Derry, who commissioned the noted boatbuilders McDonald’s of Greencastle to undertake her recent refit. In her day, An Lady Mor was one of the more iconic of the Galway hooker fleet, and it’s good to know she has been revived again.

An Lady Mor3The newly-restored An Lady Mor – now fitted with a coachroof – in Greencastle in Donegal in June. Photos: W M Nixon

An Lady Mor4

See the full listing for An Lady Mor on Afloat Boats for Sale

Published in Boat Sales

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