Curach réamhstáiriúl beo arís!

Paul’s pet project

Donegal’s Dunfanaghy currach is a surviving genetic link between the prehistoric fully-woven Boyne currach and (modern) curachs which are made entirely from sawn timber.

A fellow curach builder said – “The modern curach is the product of the industrial revolution – it’s made from sawn timber and covered with tar or bitumen-soaked canvas.”

Having built both Dunfanaghy and Boyne curachs, I realised there must have been another intermediary in this evolution – a boat-shaped all-woven hazel curach, and so I set about to build it as soon as I could.

It was slow as there were no instructions to follow. I used the dimensions of the Bunbeg paddling curach as a basis for this boat (after seeing that one man can lift it), and referred to James Hornell’s work for oar dimensions for the Dunfanaghy.

The frame came naturally enough from using the Boyne Currach weaving technique with a different shape. Weaving it into a piece of flat and then sloping ground to give the high prow shape wanted for an ocean going curach.

Fixing the seats and marrying the oars to a boat without wooden gunnels would be tricky.

I wanted to use the protruding hazel ribs as thole pins (as they probably originally were on the Dunfanaghy, so  reinforced them with hollow aluminium tubes and this arrangement has worked out well so far.