Home Currachs and Currach Building Home

My diary of a week in August 2004


This last week has been an amazing experience. On Monday morning at 8:30 I traveled to the Convent in Spanish Point, about a mile and an half from my home, to take part in a course of Curragh making or as we call them, Canoes.

My background is carpentry/joinery but I knew that boat building was a totally different discipline. I was one of nine students aged between 26 and 66 years who met with our tutor Padraig and his two young assistants Mark and John.

The first team talk from Padraig was very low key and calm and would make you think you had a month to make three canoes, instead of a week. The whole group was given various tasks, big and small that first day, and we went home reasonably happy with our progress; we had survived.

The first couple of days were a �getting to know you� process, in terms of the work and all the people involved. Under the watchful eye of Padraig we progressed, things began to take shape. We made mistakes, thankfully none to serious.

On a personal level, Michael Galvin brought in a bucketful of crab claws. Sarah Wall some real apples and a cake and Colm Garvey some beer, By the way, I got no beer which is probably just as well!.

By the end of the 4th day all three canoes had taken shape. Donals� camera never stopped clicking and our every move was recorded, he also gave us a hand when needed.

Padraigs� cool and calm exterior was tested one day, when we got a bit over enthusiastic whilst fitting the ribs to our canoe. He told us he was annoyed with us and we had to slow down and do things properly, we all agreed, after all, he was the only one there who really knew how to build a canoe.

It was amazing how twelve or more people could work together so easily, changing partners and jobs without a bother as the week went by. Although a good few of us were local we had not worked together before, but I suppose when you have a common goal to aim for, you can do it.

Arrangements were made on Saturday to bless the canoes on the beach at Seafield, which is about three quarters of a mile from Quilty Village. This was to happen on Sunday at 10:00am and we were still working on the canoes at 9:30 Sunday morning.

We were on our way to the beach at 10:00 on Sunday morning when Padraig drove down on to the shore with the three canoes- it suddenly hit me what we had accomplished in a week! The whole history of our place is tied up with the sea (good times and bad) and fishing sustained our people in times gone by; it was a very emotional moment.

Fr Larkin blessed the canoes. By the time we had sang a few songs and played several tunes on the concertina a fine crowd had gathered, much to our surprise. Everyone was delighted that the ancient craft of canoe making might be revived in our area once again.

The canoes were launched � they floated thank God! and everyone wanted a trip in them. They looked quite elegant in the sea.

We retired to the Quilty Tavern for well-earned refreshments and a relaxed chat together before we went our separate ways.

It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with everyone. Padraig, Mark, John, Colm, Sarah, Michael, Sean, Partick, Martin S, Kieran, Pat, Martin M and of course Donal.

I will always have fond memories of this past week.

Johnjoe Ryan

Copyright (c) no-one at all