The event, which is organised by the Clare Heritage Section of Clare County Council, in association with the Heritage Council, will commence with a presentation on the findings of the country’s inaugural Traditional Boats and Currachs study.
The completion of the study arrives during a period witnessing an ever increasing interest in the traditional currachs and boats of County Clare and across the country.
The study was undertaken in 2008 by Darina Tully, an expert in the areas of maritime collections, under the direction of the Clare Heritage Section and the Heritage Council.
The pioneering project involved an audit and inventory of traditional boats and currachs in County Clare, and the establishment of a priority list for their future conservation. The study also examined the local variations in traditional boat and currach building, associated customs, and usage and typology.
According to Tomás Mac Conmara, Project Manager, Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Study: “Together with a tangible renewal of interest across county Clare, the publication of the Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Study will help explain, in a county Clare context, the distribution, diversity and structural intricacies of Clare's boats and currachs, as well as contextualising their profound role in Clare's history and culture".
Mac Conmara continued: “Although, the study placed an emphasis on the artefact, its greatest achievement will be to reveal the human dimensions of currachs and boats. The boat remains a conduit for understanding far reaching cultural meanings, customs and traditions. Their preservation should be associated with the safeguarding of the communities that used them. It is hoped that this study will contribute in some way to the renewed interest in our enduring maritime tradition".
Richard Collins, founder of the West Clare Currach Club and a member of the Clare Traditional Currachs and Boats Steering Group explained: “Through geographical proximity to the water, interaction with boats has been both a necessary and fundamental part of Clare life. Latterly, this relationship has been reinforced by a conscious effort of groups and individuals across the county to re-engage the people of Clare with their maritime heritage.”
Mr. Collins commended the Clare Heritage Section for their innovation in developing the project.
“A Steering group was formed which comprised boat builders, fishermen and marine enthusiasts from across the county. The group assisted in identifying the artefacts in local areas throughout the county where local knowledge is so important. There has been a huge increase in the interest in currachs in Clare over the last number of years and this study has added considerably to that”, he stated.
• Cllr. Pat Hayes, Cathaoirleach of the Clare Heritage Forum will provide the opening address.
• Darina Tully will reveal the findings of the Traditional Boats and Currach Study. Darina has been researching and collecting data on traditional Boats in Ireland over the last two decades. Her work is a known quantity to the Heritage Council, having completed Heritage Council projects such as “Audit of Maritime Collections”
• Ted Creedon, Member of the Heritage Council and currently Chairman of the Heritage Council's Standing Committee on Archaeology, will officially launch the study. He is a journalist, broadcaster and photographer by profession with special interest in marine matters.
• TG4 presenter Pádraig Ó Duinnín and founder Ireland’s foremost maritime cultural and education centre ‘Meitheal Mara’, will provide a presentation entitled “Muintir Na Mara – The people of the sea”.
• Writer and broadcaster Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh will present “Traditional Boats Of Ireland – the Clare dimension”. Mac Cárthaigh is the editor of Traditional Boats of Ireland and is an Archivist-Collector in the UCD Delargy Centre for Irish Folklore and the National Folklore Collection.
• Founding member of the West Clare Currach Club, Richard Collins will speak about how the club has successfully revived an interest in currachs in Kilkee and the broader county. In his earlier years, he worked as a fisherman out of Carrigaholt and Kilbaha He initiated a Leader-funded building project to train local people to build currachs.
• Mick Carrig will present “Forth they go to rescue or to die” – The Rescue of the Leon XIII in 1907. The Principal of Quilty National School was a member of the LEON committee who organised the 100th anniversary of the historic rescue of the LEON XIII in 1907. The Kerry native and other members of the LEON Committee are currently researching the LEON rescue.
Meanwhile, the winners of the “Clare Maritime Photo Competition”
The competition was organised to stimulate an increased interest in Currachs and traditional boats in the secondary schools of county Clare. Entrants were asked to submit an image that represents the maritime heritage of their local area.
The winning entry will receive a Currach Building Course worth €2000. An expert boat builder will visit the winning school over five weeks and build a currach on site. The winning school will get the chance to participate in the intricate process of producing a water craft that has been for centuries an iconic symbol of Celtic Ireland. The currach will subsequently be launched at the most convenient water source to the school.
The Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Conference will be held in Cois na hAbhna, Gort Rd., Ennis, County Clare, on Saturday, 6 December 2008. The event is open to the public and admittance is free of charge.
A summary booklet relating to the Traditional Currachs and Boats Study can be obtained from Clare County Council at 065 6846456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editor:
- Images (late 19th century to the present day) relating to the Traditional Boats and Currachs Study are available on request. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or email@example.com
- Tomás Mac Conmara, Project Coordinator in the Heritage Section of Clare County Council is available for interview on 087-2764980
- Tomás Mac Conmara has been involved in several cultural and heritage initiatives over the last number of years including, Lá Brian Ború, the Clare Heritage Circle and the East Clare Oral History Project, 2005. He is currently the Cathaoirleach of Fóram Gaeilge an Chláir and Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Clare Tourist Council, a member of the Clare Placenames Committee and the East Clare Memorial Committee.
Dunphy Public Relations