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BOOK REVIEW: Traditional Boats of Ireland – History, Folklore & Construction

3rd September 2008
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Beautifully illustrated and drawing substantially on local knowledge and oral history, ‘Traditional Boats of Ireland’ reveals much about Ireland’s social and economic history: the harnessing of the sea’s resources; and how ideas as well as people, goods and animals were transported around Ireland’s extensive inland and coastal waters.

Professional historians, folklorists, archaeologists, curators, archivists, linguists, fishermen, boat-builders and owners have all been consulted, forming a team recording individual boat histories and types, and it would be difficult to exaggerate their achievement. Four essays introduce the reader to the history and oral tradition of boats and boatmen, along with cultural and environmental influences in boat building. This is followed by case studies dealing with specific examples, arranged by area.
 
Then there’s a section on the inland waterways and the boats that plied their trade there, followed by six essays on ‘skin’ boats, principally the curach, this followed in turn by a glossary of nautical terms, some of which originated in Latin or Old Norse, for example.
 
A total of 55 essays by 36 individual authors, illustrations of construction plans both current and dating from the 1930s, make this piece of history a valuable addition to any nautical library.
 
Traditional Boats of Ireland – History, Folklore and Constructio,  edited by Criostóir Mac Cárthaigh, published by Collins Press supported by the Heritage Council and other State organisations. Price: 60 euro (hardback).

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