Saturday, 5 April 2014

Currach in the West Country

Currachs seem to be all over suddenly. This magnificent example, pictured in the Western Daily Press, has just been launched in Minehead, pearl of the Bristol Channel and the place where my folks ran a hotel for many years.
The idea is to commemorate the arrival of Irish priests in currachs back in the Dark Ages, coming to bring the light of Christianity to the heathen locals. They had the best of intentions but if my memories of Saturday nights at the Wellington and other local venues are reliable, the long-term success of their civilising mission was rather limited.
The 28ft currach was built by Padraig O’Duinnin and Dave Nolan, boatbuilders from an organisation called Meitheal Mara - Gaelic for workmen of the sea. Here they are pictured in the local rag, the West Somerset Free Press (famous for the classic headline 'Jeremy Thorpe will not appear in court today')
The materials were mostly locally sourced, spruce and green oak from North Hill behind my parents' old hotel, and coppiced hazel from Dunster. Leather, still a major product of Somerset, was donated by a local firm.
The boat was built in just a week in a gazebo in the car park of the Beach Hotel, where it will form an exhibit in a museum of local life.
The boat will go in the water at least on the launch day, and the backers have expressed an ambition to row her to Ireland in a reversal of the usual direction of travel back in the 5th century. I hope she gets rowed regularly rather than just getting gawked at by grockles attracted into the museum because it is warm and dry, unlike the beach most days.
Steve Sagrott, formerly of Langstone Cutters, sent me the clips. Go on Steve - get her out on the water!

1 comment:

Gerald with the Clovelly said...

When I was at Minehead last weekend for the steam gala, I noticed these coves building the currach, So I wandered over to find out what they are up too, it seems it is a project with the YMCA, who have taken on the Beach hotel, as work experience and community sprit, they intend to put a sailing rig on it as well.

loved the smell of fresh cut wood and Tar used to dope the skin, which they had just finished.