Traditional canvas currach

Currach Boat

The traditional canvas currach, in one form or another, has been used along the West coast of Ireland for centuries. Originally, they were made from woven willow covered by animal skin. They were then, and still are, relatively easy to make. They are light to carry, easy to maintain and repair. They vary in length from 12ft to 21ft. They are easily recognized by their pencil shape design and steep rising bow. There were no roads or bridges, so it was natural for whole communities to gravitate towards the coastline, both for better diet supplements and an efficient means of transporting both people, livestock and general goods. They could access rugged, rocky inlets which were too shallow and dangerous for bigger boats, like the Galway hookers, to even attempt. Like the farm animals, they were an indispensable part of the household. Their owner had almost a spiritual attachment to his currach. Families and communities could not survive without them. They were more than just a means of transporting goods; they were a vital component of the social fabric that enabled communities to interact and bond on a social level. They were the means by which news and gossip, both good and bad, was spread. They operated in all weather, day and night. They delivered food to the hungry, doctors to the sick, priests to the dying, and carried the coffin to church. Poems and songs were written about them, they carried the bride, groom and families to weddings and wakes. On feast days they were used for currach racing as a source of entertainment, a relief from a harsh existence in an isolated, desolate, barren landscape.

Currach Boat with Turf
Pulling a cow into the currach from the river

The Aran Islands, towing a cow with a currach, to load on cargo ship in background, bound for Galway city.