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Donegal Brothers Win Skerries Three Island Currach Challenge

18th June 2023
Currach crews from all over Ireland competed for the 2023 Three Island Challenge off Skerries , Dublin . The race for Irish traditional boats saw teams rowing their currachaí a 7 km kilometer circuit around the three islands off the coast of the North Co. Dublin town (Colt Island, St. Patrick's Island and Shenick Island), before returning to shore to claim the 'East Coast Currach Rowing Championship Perpetual Cup'. Photo shows Brothers Ronan, Simon and Michael O’ Domhnaill from Gweedore Co Donegal who won the Three Island challenge in Skerries celebrate after landing with their Trophy
Currach crews from all over Ireland competed for the 2023 Three Island Challenge off Skerries , Dublin . The race for Irish traditional boats saw teams rowing their currachaí a 7 km kilometer circuit around the three islands off the coast of the North Co. Dublin town (Colt Island, St. Patrick's Island and Shenick Island), before returning to shore to claim the 'East Coast Currach Rowing Championship Perpetual Cup'. Photo shows Brothers Ronan, Simon and Michael O’ Domhnaill from Gweedore Co Donegal who won the Three Island challenge in Skerries celebrate after landing with their Trophy Credit: Maxwell Photography

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.

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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