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Displaying items by tag: Currach

Currachs and naomhógs are among the only sea craft built upside down, and the expertise dates back generations.

Poet Keith Payne learned all this and much more when he found himself working on a Dunfanaghy currach over 16 weeks. He was Cork City Library eco-poet in residence from 2022 to 2023 when he was drawn to the work of Meitheal Mara.

A Dunfanaghy currach under constructionA Dunfanaghy currach under construction Photo: Meitheal Mara

During that time, he learned about carpenters’ marks and pigtails and how to row with Naomhóga Chorcaí – “among the most inclusive groups of people” he has ever met, he said.

As he began to master the oars on the river Lee, he realised how hard those communities dependent on the currach had it out at sea – “ what they did to bring fish home and put it on the table”.

Payne is not only a poet, but also a translator and editor, and has published seven collections of poetry in translation as well as his debut collection, Broken Hill. A new publication, Whales and Whales, from the Galician of Luisa Castro is forthcoming from Skein Press. He is curator of the Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill Poetry Exchange.

Meitheal Mara brings together inclusive groups of people for its boat-building projects Photo: Meitheal MaraMeitheal Mara brings together inclusive groups of people for its boat-building projects Photo: Meitheal Mara

His latest work, Building the Boat, records his experiences with Meitheal Mara in verse, and it has just been published by Badly Made Books.

It is available in Meitheal Mara, in Books Upstairs in Dublin or directly by emailing [email protected]

He spoke to Wavelengths about the project below

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The tough realities of Irish island life are depicted in a new memoir of the Connemara island of Inis Treabhair.

The last years of an Irish-speaking community are recorded by Micheál Ó Conghaile in his book, An Island Christmas. The island’s last inhabitant, Pádraig Ó Loideáin, left the island in 2010.

A review by Micheál Ó hAodha in The Sunday Independent describes the book as “a small gem of a memoir incorporating place, people and childhood recollection”.

It includes stunning black and white photographs by Joe O’Shaughnessy of Patsy Lydon bringing his Christmas tree and bicycle in a currach to his Inis Treabhair home in December 1991.

“Daily tasks and harsh realities that people often took for granted on the mainland but which involved a great deal more work and struggle are given a special magic in Ó Conghaile’s prose as he brings tender memories to life in this unique and fascinating memoir,” Ó hAodha writes.

Patsy Lydon at home at Christmas on the Connemara island of Inis TreabhairPatsy Lydon at home at Christmas on the Connemara island of Inis Treabhair Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy

“Ó Conghaile doesn’t shirk from describing the back-breaking work the island community, both adults and children, performed – turf-cutting on the mainland and the subsequent loading into boats, the slaughtering of fowl and pigs for food ensure the maintenance of a way of life that survived for many centuries,” he writes.

“You needed to be hardy and tough to survive on an island, and that’s the truth. And yet this is no rose-tinted or nostalgic look at the past, even if a certain loneliness permeates the story for what we all may have lost with the arrival of the technology-saturated modernity that defines urban Ireland today,” he notes.

An Island Christmas’ (Nollaig Oileánach) is available from mercierpress.ie and all good bookshops nationwide.

Read The Sunday Independent here

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A team of three Donegal brothers have won the Three Island currach rowing challenge in Skerries, Co Dublin, this weekend.

Simon, Ronan and Michael O Dómhnaill from Gaoth Dobhair had won the race for traditional currachs in 2021, and were determined to regain their title after failing to secure it last year.

The 2023 race course was changed to allow for inclement weather, with the 12 competing boats completing a seven-kilometre trajectory on the leeward side of the three islands off the coast of the north Dublin harbour.

Currach (on right) the brothers from left Michael, Simon and Ronan O’ Domhnaill from Gweedore Co Donegal who won the Three Island challenge in Skerries during the race as they compete with a team from Carlingford LoughCurrach (on right) the brothers from left Michael, Simon and Ronan O’ Domhnaill from Gweedore Co Donegal who won the Three Island challenge in Skerries during the race as they compete with a team from Carlingford Lough Photo: Maxwells

The Skerries Three Island challenge / Dúshlán na dTrí Oileán na Sceirí differs from other regattas, in that it is open to all types of currachaí, including two, three and four-hander boats, with a handicap system being applied.

The race is described as a demonstration of “both athleticism and the many different crafts involved in traditional Irish boats”.

The challenge was hosted by Currachaí na Sceirí, a group of boatbuilding rowers and enthusiasts who have revived the currach racing tradition in the fishing harbour.

It dates back to 1959, when Denis Guiney, founder of Clerys department store, presented a silver cup to the Skerries Currach race.

Captain Paul Lampkin from Skerries as he keeps a watch on participants who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries . Pic Maxwell’s Captain Paul Lampkin from Skerries as he keeps a watch on participants who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries Photo: Maxwells

Currachaí na Sceirí has built a number of its own currachs, and purchased boats from Cork and Clare.

It also has a North Mayo-style Belderrig currach, which had previously featured in the “Game of Thrones” television series, and “King Arthur”.

The team from Skerries Currach Club from left Dermott Higgins, Anca Marginen, Donal Ruane, Finbar O Connor and Tony Moran from who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries Photo: MaxwellsThe team from Skerries Currach Club from left Dermott Higgins, Anca Marginen, Donal Ruane, Finbar O Connor and Tony Moran from who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries Photo: Maxwells

As previously reported by Afloat, the Skerries boat, An Béal Deirg, is a five hander 24 foot salmon fishing type of currach, which there is only a handful of worldwide.

In 2002, the National Museum of Ireland commissioned skilled boat-builder Pádraig Ó Duinnín and a team from Meitheal Mara in Cork to construct the Belderrig currach on the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park in Castlebar.

Catriona Ni Mhaidin from Cork as she races to the line to plant their flag, who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries Photo: Maxwells Cathriona Ni Mhaidin from Cork as she races to the line to plant their flag, who took part in the Three Island currach challenge in Skerries Photo: Maxwells

Presenting the East Coast Currach Rowing Championship Perpetual Cup to the three Ó Domhnaill oarsmen, newly elected Mayor of Fingal Cllr Adrian Henchy paid tribute to the “magnificent currachaí” and the “phenomenal craftsmanship” involved in the vessels.

The currach team from Carlingford Lough Currach Club Warrenpoint from left Paul Hogan and his wife Miriam and Madonna Jones who took part in the Three Island challenge in SkerriesThe currach team from Carlingford Lough Currach Club Warrenpoint from left Paul Hogan and his wife Miriam and Madonna Jones who took part in the Three Island challenge in Skerries

“And it’s great to see so many people travelling to be part of this event; people coming from overseas and all over Ireland, with competing teams coming from Clare, Cork, Down and Donegal and other counties,” Mayor Henchy said.

“The Three Island Challenge is a wonderful community event, and Skerries is a fantastic town right in the heart of Fingal, and I want to pay tribute to the organisers of the challenge, the Currachaí na Sceirí group, and all the volunteers that made today’s event possible,” he said.

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An Achill currach built by artist Mark Redden is part of a project on display for the next fortnight in Dublin’s Temple Bar.

Redden says the project began as a conversation about how a damaged two-handed Achill currach, An Trá Bán, owned by Rosie O’Reilly could “breathe life into a new boat”.

“Taking the beauty of its shape through Rosie’s charcoal rubbings and combining it with a build style that incorporates recycled furniture, hazel rod ribs and twine, An Mór Ríoghain was born,” he says.

The vessel is on display, along with work by both Redden and O’Reilly, at the TØN Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin.

Seaweed print-Strangers in a middle world by Rosie O'ReillySeaweed print-Strangers in a middle world by Rosie O'Reilly

O’Reilly’s will show a series of black and white film images, developed and printed using chemicals derived from an invasive seaweed, a Japanese kelp as part of an ongoing oceanic research project entitled “Strangers in a middle world’.

Her project had its first home at the terminal building of Porto’s port from Jan-March 2018 where she was artist in residency at the marine research institution CIMAR observing the study of marine invasive species.

Flight of the great fish by Mark ReddenFlight of the great fish by Mark Redden

Redden will show “An island of abundance and poverty”, taking early Irish literary romances as inspiration for this series of paintings and sculptures.

He says the work references the 11th century “Imrama” or navigations; and the voyage of Máel Dúin, which resembles the classical tale of Ulysses.

Redden has been building currachs since 2004, having worked with master boat builder Jackie Mons of Oughterard and Meitheal Mara in Cork.

An accomplished painter and sculptor, he still turns out currachs every now and then to share the joys of currach making and coastal rowing.

He has built boats in Norway, Spain and as far away as Tasmania, as well as all over Ireland and has won the Ocean to City regatta in Cork with a crew he trained in Barcelona.

In 2008, Redden established Iomramh in Barcelona, an association dedicated to currach building, rowing and oceanic awareness.

For the past 11 years, he has organised a regatta and festival around St Patrick’s day in Barcelona, which centres around his fleet of four currachs.

Both Redden and O’Reilly collaborated on a community project to build currachs for the East Wall Water Sports Centre. In 2016, O’Reilly acquired An Tra Bán from a Mayo fisherman.

To celebrate their latest project, a short talk was given last week by Dr Treasa de Loughry of the University College, Dublin School of English, touching on themes of blue humanities and eco-literacy, and this was followed by a discussion with the two artists.

Redden’s currach An Mór Rioghain and the artworks are on view at the TØN Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin, by appointment from now until May 15th. For information, contact Sorcha Finlay at 085 108 9899 or artist Rosie O’Reilly at [email protected]

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The 70th anniversary of “Tóstal na Gaillimhe”, a traditional currach regatta, is to be celebrated off Salthill in Galway Bay in early May.

After a break of ten years, the event planned for May 6th and 7th has been billed as a “celebration of Galway’s maritime life and seafaring customs” will be held off Ladies Beach along Salthill promenade.

It is being hosted by the Galway Hooker Sailing Club, in partnership with the Salthill village business community, Blackrock Cottage restaurant, the Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club, and Galway City Council.

The event was initiated in the early 1950s, and “Tóstal na Gaillimhe” of 1953 hosted by Bord Fáilte, marked the beginning of the All-Ireland Currach Racing Championships. After it lapsed in 1959, it was revived again in 2011, and new trophies were presented in 2012.

Tóstal na Gaillimhe

This year’s two-day gathering involve male, female, and junior traditional currach racing rowers alongside sliding seat rowers.

The currachaí will be provided by Cóiste Lár na gCurrachaí for the duration of the festival.

Ciaran Oliver of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club said, “we are thrilled to bring back the tradition of An Tóstal to Salthill in celebration of its 70th anniversary” and promised an “exciting two-day event”.

The Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club will be hosting ‘”try rowing” sessions, and the Galway Hooker Sailing Club will be hosting ‘”try sailing” sessions for those curious about getting started.

“ Galway Bay promises a spectacle of red sails as the iconic Galway Hooker fleet - along with other local sailing clubs - take to the water,” the organisers state.

The event is free, and there will be live music, work by local artists, sandcastle-building contests, and food and drink on the promenade during the event.

The Village Salthill business group is “delighted to be involved”, its spokesman Pete Kelly said.

Kelly noted there were “ample attractions to complement the ‘on water’ spectacle, with the Funpark, Leisureland Aquarium, Seapoint, and the Galway City Council Family Funday”.

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An historic race involving the rare Belderrig currach resulted in a victory for Mayo emigrants over the August bank holiday weekend.

Oarsmen with Mayo links from Currachaí na Sceirí, a club based in Skerries north Dublin, secured first place in the hotly contested race against a crew from Belderrig.

As Afloat reported previously, It was the first time since 1953 that what was once a regular challenge had taken place in Belderrig harbour on the north Mayo coast.

The winning Belderrig currach crew from Currachaí na Sceirí -Shane Holland Finbarr O Connor, Dermot Higgins, Anthony Moran  pictured with Kevin O'Sullivan  in the stern..jpgThe winning Belderrig currach crew from Currachaí na Sceirí -Shane Holland Finbarr O Connor, Dermot Higgins, Anthony Moran pictured with Kevin O'Sullivan in the stern

Both crews were rowing the Belderrig design of currach, a five-hander 24-foot-long salmon fishing type of craft once used along that stretch of coastline.

The winning team from Currachaí na Sceirí included Shane Holland, Finbarr O Connor, Dermot Higgins, Anthony Moran and Kevin O'Sullivan in the stern.

The Belderrig crew involved the Madden brothers of Padraig, Paul and Darren, along with Declan Caulfield and Oisín Mc Conamhna in the stern.

The Belderrig crew of the Madden brothers, Padraig, Paul and Darren, with Declan Caulfield and Oisín Mac Conamhna in  the sternThe Belderrig crew of the Madden brothers, Padraig, Paul and Darren, with Declan Caulfield and Oisín Mac Conamhna in the stern

In separate time trials, Dan and Alan Mc Hale from Mayo won first place, with Skerries crews coming second and third.

In 2002, the National Museum of Ireland commissioned skilled boat-builder Pádraig Ó Duinnín and a team from Meitheal Mara in Cork to construct the Belderrig currach in the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park in Castlebar.

CnS crew get readyCurrachaí na Sceirí crew get ready Photo: Ann Laurent

Currachaí na sceiriCurrachaí na sceiri in full flight Photo: Ann Laurent

 Belderrig (in foreground) Belderrig (in foreground) Photo: Ann Laurent

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For those missing the annual Dublin-Mayo clash on the GAA pitch, there is a substitute of sorts on water this weekend.

A friendly clash between the Dublin-based Mayomen of Skerries and the Mayomen of Belderrig in the north of the county takes place on Saturday, July 30th, in Belderrig harbour.

Declan Caulfield, owner of the local Mayo boat, says it will be the first such race in over 50 years.

Belderrig currach oarsmenBelderrig currach oarsmen in action

The crews previously raced against each other in Skerries at the 3 Island Currach Challenge.

The Skerries boat, An Béal Deirg, is a five hander 24 foot salmon fishing type of currach, which there are only a handful of worldwide.

Shane Holland, who is captain of Currachaí na Sceirí, says he is excited about the trip.

Holland says he “always wanted to row the North Mayo coast, given that my father grew up in the Post office in Killala”

“. Our crew consists of two other Mayomen - Tony Moran of Killala, Finbarr O’Connor of Knockmore and my nephew Louis Holland of Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with Kevin O’Sullivan and Dermot Higgins of Skerries,” Holland says.

The Belderrig crew skippered by Declan Caulfield includes Oisín Mc Canamhna of Belderrig, Darren and Paul Madden of Ballycastle, now living in Glasson and Co Cork respectively.

Oisín’s father, Brendán Mc Canamhna, is an expert on the subject of North Mayo currachs, and has written extensively on the subject.

The race will also be closely observed by Noel Campbell of the National Museum of Ireland, custodian of the third existing “Belderrig” which resides in the museum in Turlough Park in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The race between the two currachs takes place at 12 noon on Saturday, July 30th, in Belderrig harbour, Co Mayo.

Belderrig Killala French oarsmen wearing French coloursBelderrig Killala French oarsmen wearing French colours

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Rowing a currach across Kerry waters features in one of five TG4 projects to be screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, which opens this week.

Four of the actors in the film, entitled Tarrac, take to their oars on the Atlantic in what has been described as an “intimate character drama set in the Kerry gaeltacht”.

Directed by Declan Recks, the plot focuses on Aoife Ní Bhraoin, who returns home to help her father, Brendán ‘The Bear’ Ó Briain, recover from a heart attack.

Day to day they get along “just fine”, but a deeper dig explores “so much that has been left unsaid about the loss of Aoife’s mother”, according to the film notes.

The script was written by Eugene O’Brien and the film was produced by Clíona Ní Bhuachalla.

Cast includes Kelly Gough, Lorcan Cranitch, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, Kate Finegan, Rachel Feeney and Cillian Ó Gairbhí.

The premiere of Tarrac will be screened at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Friday, July 8th, at 9pm.

TG4 and Screen Ireland will also host a networking event at the Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday July 9th for producers interested in creating content in the Irish language.

For the full programme, screening times, and tickets see www.galwayfilmfleadh.com or contact Galway’s Town Hall Theatre box office on 091 569 777.

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This year’s Liffey City Currach Regatta takes place this coming Saturday 7 May, with crews assembling at St Patrick’s Rowing Club in Ringsend at 10am for registration before the first race at 11.30am.

Racing will continue throughout the afternoon with crews from Dublin, Connemara and Warrenpoint all expected to take part. For more on the event see the Facebook page HERE.

The event comes not long after three currachs were launched on the Liffey in a rare occasion in the capital, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Currachs

Three currachs were successfully launched on the River Liffey yesterday to the sound of traditional music tunes and the boats were blessed in a ceremony at Poolbeg in Dublin city.

As Afloat reported earlier, the boats were launched by the Draíocht na Life rowing group.

Traditional Boats of Ireland Editor Criostoir Mac Cartaigh officiated at the proceedings, saying that it's not every day you see three currachs being launched on the same day, especially in Dublin.

The three currachs are launched at the slipway next to Stella Maris Rowing Club Photo: AfloatThe three currachs are launched at the slipway next to Stella Maris Rowing Club Photo: Afloat

One currach is a racing version, built in Connemara and used on the Liffey.

'Cairde' was recently restored by Micheál Ó Maoilchiaráin from Carna in Conamara who took off the old canvas in favour of fibreglass.

A revamp of a Conamara racer, named 'Cairde', from left to right;  Peter Carey and Tom Jordan Photo: AfloatA revamp of a Conamara racer, named 'Cairde', from left to right;  Peter Carey and Tom Jordan Photo: Afloat

New hardwood and pins alongside a nice new paint job finished off the job.

'Sáile', a two-seater and a three seater, 'Faoileán', were built by Ed Tuthill, a Liffey rower, and both were put together in Clane, Co Kildare.

The three-seater was built during the lockdown.

A two seater currach, named Saile, meaning 'woods salted by the sea' from left to right;  Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Frank Tate Photo: AfloatA two seater currach, named Saile, meaning 'woods salted by the sea' from left to right;  Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Frank Tate Photo: Afloat

Mac Cartaigh praised the skill, passion and bravery of the builders who have contributed a huge amount to currach building and getting people out rowing on the Liffey.

The currachs were blessed by Fr Ivan Tonge from Ringsend.

The Draíocht na Life rowing group was formed around 15 years ago by Liffey currach rower and owner, Dave Kelly.

Tunes were played ashore by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Frank Tate and Fionn O hAlmhain. 

TG4 were there to capture the event in the stern of Cairde and the launch was aired on Nuacht TG4 at 7 pmAs well as Afloat, TG4 were there to capture the event in the stern of Cairde and the launch was aired on Nuacht TG4 at 7 pm Photo: Afloat

Next Saturday crews from Kerry to Donegal and from Conamara to Warrenpoint will take part in the first currach races of the season in Dublin. 

Currach Launching on the Liffey Photo Gallery 

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RORC's Caribbean 600 Race

The 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start from Antigua on Tuesday, 14th February 2023.

The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth's

PAST WINNERS: RORC CARIBBEAN 600 TROPHY - IRC OVERALL: (Best corrected time under IRC)

2020 - Tilmar Hansen, Outsider, TP52 (GER)
2019 - David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
2018 - George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
2017 - Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
2016 - George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
2015 - Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
2014 - George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
2013 - Ron O'Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
2012 - Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán (GBR)
2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)

RACE RECORDS:

Multihull record (2019): Giovanni Soldini, Maserati, Multi 70 (ITA) - 30 hours, 49 minutes, 00 seconds
(I day 6 hrs 49 mins 0 secs)

Monohull record (2018): George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA) - 37 hours, 41 minutes, 45 seconds
(1 day 13 hrs 41 mins 45 secs)

At a Glance - RORC Caribbean 600 2024

The 15th anniversary edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts in Antigua on 19th February 2024.

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