A currach (Irish: curach, Irish pronunciation: [ˈkʊɾˠax]) is a type of Irish boat with a wooden frame, over which animal skins or hides were once stretched, though now canvas is more usual. It is sometimes anglicised as "curragh".
The construction and design of the currach are unique to the west coasts of Ireland. It is referred to as a naomhóg (Irish pronunciation: [nˠəi'βˠo:gˠ]; lit. "little holy one", "little female saint", from naomh ([nˠe:βˠ]) "saint, holy" and the feminine diminutive suffix -óg) in counties Cork, Waterford and Kerry and as a "canoe" in West Clare. It is similar to the Welsh coracle, though the two originated independently. The plank-built rowing boat found on the west coast of Connacht is also called a currach or curach adhmaid ("wooden currach"), and is built in a style very similar to its canvas-covered relative.
A larger version of this is known simply as a bád iomartha (rowing boat). It is suggested that the prototype of this wooden boat was built on Inishnee around 1900 and based upon a tender from a foreign vessel seen in Cleggan harbour. These wooden boats progressively supplanted the canvas currach as a workboat around the Connemara coast. This rowing currach measured up to 20 feet, and is still seen in water in North Donegal.
The currach has traditionally been both a sea boat and a vessel for inland waters. The River currach was especially well known for its shallow-draft and maneuverability. Its framework was constructed of hazel rods and Sally twigs, which was covered by a single ox-hide, which not only insulated the currach, but also helped dictate its shape. These currach were common on the rivers of South Wales, and were often referred to as Boyne currach. However, when Ireland declared the netting of salmon and other freshwater fish illegal in 1948, its once common appearance quickly dwindled.
During the Neolithic period, the first settlers landed in the northern part of Ireland, likely arriving in boats that were the ancestors of the currach. Development in joining methods of wood during the Neolithic period made it possible to eventually create what the currach is today. Hide-covered basket origins are evident in currachs found in the east of Ireland, and using the skins for lining currachs in the Neolithic period likely was how the early Irish were able to make their way over to the British Isles.
The currach represents one of two traditions of boat and shipbuilding in Ireland: the skin-covered vessel and the wooden vessel. The flimsy construction of the former makes it unlikely that any remains would be available for the marine archaeologist, but its antiquity is clear from written sources.
One of these is the Latin account of the voyage of St Brendan (who was born c. 484 in the southwest of Ireland): Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis. This contains an account of the building of an ocean-going boat: using iron tools, the monks made a thin-sided and wooden-ribbed vessel sicut mos est in illis partibus (“as the custom is in those parts”), covering it with hides cured with oak bark. Tar was used to seal the places where the skins joined. A mast was then erected in the middle of the vessel and a sail supplied. Though the voyage itself is essentially a wonder-tale, it is implied that the vessel as described was built in accordance with ordinary practice at the time. An Irish martyrology of the same period says of the Isle of Aran that the boat commonly used there was made of wickerwork and covered with cowhide.
Gerald of Wales, in his Topographia Hibernica (1187), relates that he was told by certain seamen that, having taken refuge from a storm off the coast of Connacht, they saw two men, long-haired and scantily clad, approaching in a slender wickerwork boat covered in skins. The crew found that the two spoke Irish and took them on board, whereupon they expressed amazement, never before having seen a large wooden ship.
The consistency in accounts from the early Middle Ages to the early modern period makes it likely that the construction and design of the currach underwent no fundamental change in the interval.
A 17th-century account in Latin by Philip O'Sullivan Beare of the Elizabethan wars in Ireland includes a description of two currachs built in haste to cross the River Shannon. The larger was constructed as follows: two rows of osiers were thrust in the ground opposite each other, the upper ends being bent in to each other (ad medium invicem reflexa) and tied with cords, whereupon the frame so made was turned upside down. Planks, seats and thwarts were then fitted inside (cui e solida tabula, statumina, transtraque interius adduntur), horse hide was fixed to the exterior and oars with rowlocks were supplied. This vessel is described as being able to carry 30 armed men at a time.
The currach bears a close resemblance to the coracle, a similar circular rowboat used in Wales, and to the wide family of circular boats termed "coracles" common throughout South and Southeast Asia. These non-Irish coracles all ultimately trace their origin to the quffa, a round Iraqi riverboat dating to the 9th century BCE, or possibly even as early as the 2nd millennium BCE. The resemblances between the currach and the coracle and quffa are a coincidence. However. British ethnologist James Hornell, who studied the currach, coracle, and quffa extensively during the early 20th century, believes that the currach was developed independently of the coracle and quffa in a case of multiple invention.
The construction and sailing of a seagoing curach of the 17th century – a hybrid of the skin-covered and plank-built boat – was depicted in some detail by an Englishman, Captain Thomas Phillips: "A portable vessel of wicker ordinarily used by the Wild Irish".
Though doubt has been cast on the accuracy of these sketches, they are detailed and represent a valid development of the ocean-going currach. The vessel is some twenty feet long: it possesses a keel and a rudder, with a wickerwork hull stiffened by ribs, and with a mast amidship. Because of the keel, the craft is shown as being constructed from the bottom up. A covering (presumably of animal hides) was added when the wickerwork was complete, the sides being supported by rods in the interval.
The mast is supported by stays and by double shrouds on each side, the latter descending to an external shelf functioning as a chainwale. The forestay is shown as passing over a small fork above the yardarm, which supports a square sail: a branch is tied to the mast-top. The stern is surmounted by double half-hoops which could support a covering.
Currachs in general adhere to a plan designed to produce a sturdy, light and versatile vessel. The framework consists of latticework formed of rib-frames ("hoops") and stringers (longitudinal slats), surmounted by a gunwale. There are stem and stern posts, but no keel. Thwarts are fitted, with knees supplied as required. Cleats or thole pins are fitted for the oars, and there may be a mast and sail, though with a minimum of rigging. The outside of the hull is covered by tarred canvas or calico, a substitute for animal hide.
Currachs were used in the modern period for fishing, for ferrying and for the transport of goods and livestock, including sheep and cattle.
Use of the currach was not continuous or universal along the Atlantic coast. In the modern period it did not reach Kerry (in the southwest of Ireland) until the late 19th century (c. 1880). Until then the only vessel used was the heavy wooden seine boat, which required eight men to row it. The Blasket Islanders found the currach (or naomhóg) particularly useful, and a distinctive regional type developed.
The Irish River Currach is still being built in Oldbridge at river Boyne. Currachs produced here follow the same general construction process as many other Currach styles but in Boyne they implement the use of tarred canvas as the outer layer.
Detailed plans are available for Donegal currachs.
The Donegal Sea Currach is very similar to the Boyne Currach in construction and style although the two are produced on opposite coasts from each other. It must also be noted that the Donegal Sea Currach is the last traditional Irish craft to use the free paddle instead of the traditional oar.
South Mayo currachs differ from most other currach types in that, instead of the stringers which elsewhere run outside the latticework frame, the bottom and sides are covered with a thin planking. In Achill Island the currach is built with double gunwales.
The Connemara currach is also distinguished by a double gunwale and by a particular form of pivoting block or "bull" attached to one side of the squared region of the loom of the oar.
The Aran islanders, like the Blasket islanders further south, were assiduous users of the curach. Unusually for the area a sail was used, though without shrouds or stays. Apart from the halliard, the only ropes were the tack, led to a point near the stem, and the sheet, carried aft and secured to the last thwart.
Currach races remain popular. In the mid-1950s and early 1960s the Seoighe cousins excelled by winning many county and All Ireland championships, including three in a row of the latter.
The Clare currach closely resembled that of the Aran Islands. In construction, a series of wooden markers were sunk into the ground at definite distances apart. These helped show the width desired for the lower gunwale frame. This was constructed first, followed by the upper frame, and the thwarts were then nailed into place.
Kerry currachs had a reputation for elegance and speed. All were fitted for sailing, with a short mast without shrouds stepped in a socket in a short mast shoe. The halliard was rove through an iron ring near the masthead, hoisting a small lug sail, and this was controlled by a sheet and tack. When under sail lee-boards might be employed.
Currently there are few full-time currach builders. A notable exception are Meitheal Mara, who build currachs and train in currach building in Cork. They also organise currach-racing.
There has been a community-based enterprise in West Clare since 2005 called West Clare Currachs, with support from James Madigan of the Ilen School, Limerick. LNBHA, a community group on Lough Neagh, has made a number of Kerry naomhógs and Dunfanaghy and Tory Island currachs. In other counties on the western seaboard there are boat builders who sometimes make currachs.
St Columba is said to have used a currach.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland of 1795 we read of
The Spey currach would thus seem to be similar to the Welsh coracle in design, being used on a river rather than in the open sea. But twenty years earlier, we read of bigger ones, in Shaw's History of the Province of Moray (1775):
A more detailed description can be found in Scottish court records (1780):
Spey currachs were used in the timber trade there, as described in Ainslie's Pilgrimage etc. (1822):
These may have survived into twentieth century; there is a reference to a "currick" in the Banffshire Journal (1926).
Currachs survive now as racing boats, often holding their own against much more modern types. In the annual London Great River Race, Currachs have regularly performed outstandingly in the Overall rankings (fastest boat on handicap), notably in 2007, 2008, and 2010.
A currach entered the inaugural Race to Alaska in 2015. The West Kerry naomhóg, with two Canadian crew members, attempted the 1200 kilometer no-motor trip up the Inside Passage from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, AK.
Currach races are also performed at the Milwaukee Irish Fest. This event is held by the Irish Currach Club of Milwaukee in late August of every year and it features two races that are available for the public to view during the festival.
The Aran Islands (Irish: Oileáin Árann—pronunciation: [əˈlʲɑːnʲ ˈɑːɾən]) or The Arans (na hÁrainneacha—[nə ˈhɑːɾənʲəxə]) are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, with a total area of about 46 km2 (18 sq mi). They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland.
From west to east the islands are: Inishmore (Árainn Mhór/Inis Mór—[ˈɑːɾənʲ woːɾ] or [ˈɪnʲɪʃ moːɾ]), the largest; Inishmaan (Inis Meáin/Inis Meadhóin—[ˈɪnʲɪʃ mʲɑːnʲ]), the second-largest; and Inisheer (Inis Thiar/Inis Oírr/Inis Oirthir—[ˈɪnʲɪʃ hiəɾ / iːɾʲ / ˈɛɾʲhɪɾʲ]), the smallest.
The 1,200 inhabitants primarily speak Irish, the language used in local placenames. All islanders are also fluent in English. The islands belong to the Gaeltacht.Blood of the Irish
This is an article about a television documentary, not about the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. For the similarly titled song by Morrissey, see "Irish Blood, English Heart". The non-fiction book by Colm Tóibín is Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border.Blood of the Irish is a two-part documentary miniseries broadcast on RTÉ One and presented by the professional gardener Diarmuid Gavin. It commenced airing on 5 January 2009 and completed broadcasting seven days later. Gavin sought 'the truth' about Irish genealogy.
The programme examined the previously claimed notion that one fifth of the modern male population living in the north-west counties are direct descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the legendary high king who allegedly kidnapped the young Saint Patrick and led him to Ireland. This was found to be particularly the case in County Donegal where it was discovered that five inter-county footballers out of the entire panel of thirty carried the relevant gene. Daniel O'Donnell, an internationally renowned Irish singer and entertainer, submitted himself to for testing and it was discovered that he too was one of these descendants.Gavin also explored a cave in Northern Spain while trying to link Ireland with migrants from the Basque region. He was surprised at similarities between Irish and people in Bermeo. He later extracted saliva samples containing DNA from people living in the West of Ireland and sent them for analysis. Bear DNA from old bones in an Irish cave was also found to be closely related to DNA from Spanish bears leading to the conclusion that the human immigrants must have carried the bears to Ireland in their skin-covered currach-type craft as domesticated animals. No other possibility was offered for this unusual finding.
Trinity College, Dublin and EthnoAncestry undertook research. An attempt was made to extract ancient DNA from some of the oldest human remains found within the boundaries of Ireland. The Basques-to-Ireland theory was based on an earlier paper, "Y-chromosome variation and Irish origins" published in 2000, which examined 5 markers per sample. By 2009, further research in greater detail had suggested a much more complicated and layered origin for Irish male lineages, with private tests typically examining over 60 markers, which the programme makers ignored.Boyne Currach
Boyne Currach is an Irish historical group run by Boyne Currach Heritage Group. The group's purpose is to conform to traditional methods and good cultural practice in the building of ancient boats and ships of early Ireland.Coracle
The coracle is a small, rounded, lightweight boat of the sort traditionally used in Wales, and also in parts of the West Country and in Ireland, particularly the River Boyne, and in Scotland, particularly the River Spey. The word is also used of similar boats found in India, Vietnam, Iraq and Tibet. The word "coracle" is an English spelling of the original Welsh cwrwgl, cognate with Irish and Scottish Gaelic currach, and is recorded in English text as early as the sixteenth century. Other historical English spellings include corougle, corracle, curricle and coricle.Coragh
Coragh (Irish derived place name, Currach meaning ‘The Moor’.) is a townland in the civil parish of Kildallan, barony of Tullyhunco, County Cavan, Ireland.Corrachomera
Corrachomera (from Irish: Currach Iomaire, meaning "The Marshy Ridge") is a townland in the civil parish of Templeport, County Cavan, Ireland. It lies in the Roman Catholic parish of Corlough and barony of Tullyhaw. The local pronunciation is Currach-Humra.Curracloe
Curracloe (Irish: Currach Cló, meaning "marsh of the impression") is a village in County Wexford, a few miles northeast of the town of Wexford, Ireland. It lies on the R742 regional road at the junction with R743, and is linked to the long and sandy Curracloe Strand (beach) by the short R743 road, 4 km (2.5 mi) to the east. Curracloe sees a huge influx of holiday travellers every summer, who stay in bed & breakfast inns, mobile homes and caravan parks.Curragh
The Curragh (Irish: An Currach, [ənˠ ˈkʊɾˠəx]) is a flat open plain of almost 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of common land in County Kildare, Ireland, between Newbridge and Kildare. This area is well known for Irish horse breeding and training. The Irish National Stud is located on the edge of Kildare town, beside the famous Japanese Gardens. Also located here is Pollardstown Fen, the largest fen in Ireland. This area is of particular interest to botanists and ecologists because of the numerous bird species that nest and visit there. There are also many rare plants that grow there.
It is composed of a sandy soil formed after an esker deposited a sand load and as a result it has excellent drainage characteristics. This makes it a popular location for training racehorses.Curraghabweehan
Curraghabweehan (from Irish: Currach an Bhuíochain, meaning "Moor of the Muddy Yellow Place") is a townland in the civil parish of Templeport, County Cavan, Ireland. It lies in the Roman Catholic parish of Corlough and barony of Tullyhaw.Curraghboy
Curraghboy (Irish: An Currach Buí) is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland. It lies 14 km (8.7 mi) northwest of Athlone on the R362 regional road. It has one public house and two grocery shops. It also has an indoor 40 x 20 handball alley, Roman Catholic Church and Primary School.Curraha
Curraha (Irish: Currach Átha, meaning "the ford/crossing at the marshy/boggy area") is a small village located 4.5 km from Ashbourne and 4 km from Ratoath, County Meath, Ireland.
The area of Curraha stretches from the road towards Ratoath with the border not far from Ratoath Rugby pitch down to past Kilmoon Cross. It also stretches from Greenpark Bridge over to the N2 (along the 'Bog' of Curraha). In Curraha there is one school (St Andrew's NS, Curraha (opened 1952) Principal is Mr JJ Brennan. Curraha also has one Church (St Andrew's Church, built 1904), four cemeteries (Curraha, Crickstown, Kilbrew and Kilmoon), three local shops, two public houses (Swan's Bar & Lounge, The Snail Box Bar & Restaurant), a GAA Club, (hurling & football, Chairperson Cormac Keogh, Secretary Paul O'Connor), located at Joe McDermott Park, a Tennis Club (located at Curraha Church car-park) and other clubs and organisations such as Curraha ICA. The Largo Foods/Perri/Tayto factory is located in Curraha on the Kilbrew Road. TaytoPark is also located in Curraha. There is a statue commemorating Paud O'Donoghue at the crossroads in Curraha, Paud was a blacksmith who participated in the 1798 rebellion. A ballad about his participation can be found at the weblink below.Currie
Currie (Scottish Gaelic: Currach) is a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland, situated 7 miles south west of the city centre. A former village within the County of Midlothian, it lies to the south west of the city, between Juniper Green (NE) and Balerno (SW) on the Lanark Road. Administratively, Currie falls within the jurisdiction of the City of Edinburgh Council. It gives its name to a civil parish.
In 2001 the population of Currie was 8,550 and it contained 3,454 houses.Fahamore
Fahamore (Irish: An Fhaiche Mhór, meaning "the large green") is a small hamlet/village on the Maharees peninsula in County Kerry. It consists of about 50 houses and one famous pub, Spillane's. Fahamore was historically much larger than it is now as evidenced by two old schoolhouses in the village, one dating from 1849 and the other from 1911. Fahamore is located on the shore of Brandon Bay and is a centre for diving, surfing, windsurfing and sea bass fishing.
Fahamore is also a centre for currach (or Naomhóg) building in the home of master currach builder Monty O'Leary. Currachs are still used as both fishing boats and trawler tenders in Fahamore at the local fishing harbour located on Scraggane Bay. Fahamore hosts a currach racing regatta every July where teams from the western seaboard of Ireland (from Kerry to Galway) compete in the All-Ireland Currach racing series.Greaghacholea
Greaghacholea (Irish derived place name, Gréach an Chuaille meaning 'The Moorland of the Tall Leafless Tree'.) is a townland in the civil parish of Kildallan, barony of Tullyhunco, County Cavan, Ireland. The townland is also known as Coraghmuck ((Irish derived place name, Currach Muc meaning The Moorland of the Pigs).Gweedore
Gweedore (officially known by its Irish language name, Gaoth Dobhair, Irish pronunciation: [ˌɡˠi ˈd̪ˠoːɾʲ]) is an Irish-speaking district and parish located on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal in the west of Ulster in the north-west of Ireland. Gweedore stretches some 26 kilometres (16 mi) from Glasserchoo in the north to Crolly in the south and around 14 kilometres (9 mi) from Dunlewey in the east to Magheraclogher in the west, and is one of Europe's most densely populated rural areas. It is the largest Irish-speaking parish in Ireland with a population of around 4,065, and is also the home of the northwest regional studios of the Irish-language radio service RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, as well as an external campus of National University of Ireland, Galway. Gweedore includes the villages Bunbeg, Derrybeg, Dunlewey, Crolly and Brinalack, and sits in the shade of County Donegal's highest peak, Mount Errigal.Gweedore is known for being a cradle of Irish culture, with old Irish customs, traditional music, theatre, Gaelic games and the Irish language playing a central and pivotal role in the lives of the local people. This, along with its scenery and many beaches, has made the area a popular tourist destination, especially with visitors from Northern Ireland. Gweedore and the neighbouring districts of Cloughaneely and the Rosses are collectively known locally as "the three parishes"; they form a social and cultural region distinct from the rest of the county, with Gweedore serving as the main centre for socialising and industry.Johnny Connolly
Johnny Connolly is an Irish musician from Connemara, and one of Ireland's most prominent players of the melodeon (one-row button accordion). In a 2008 TG4 interview, Connolly described how he first took up the instrument: his parents left the children home at Inis Bearacháin to go watch currach racing, and Connolly's sister showed him where their parents kept their melodeon locked up, which he commenced to play for the rest of the day, beginning his ties to the instrument. Connolly has been described as "king of the melodeon", the best player of his generation, and catalyst for increased interest in the single-row melodeon in Irish music.Connolly's son, Johnny Óg Connolly, is a well-known player of the Irish button accordion.Medbh McGuckian
Medbh McGuckian (born as Maeve McCaughan on 12 August 1950) is a poet from Northern Ireland.Milwaukee Irish Fest
Milwaukee Irish Fest (locally known as Irish Fest) is a yearly ethnic festival held at the Henry Maier Festival Park, on Lake Michigan, United States, every third weekend in August. More than 130,000 people attend the Fest each year to take in nearly 250 acts on 17 stages. The four-day festival in downtown Milwaukee started in 1981. Irish Fest is the largest of the ethnic festivals held at the Summerfest grounds which report attendance, and holds claim to the largest celebration of Irish Culture in the world.The 2019 festival will be held August 15–18, 2019.
Festival highlights include:
Performances from local Milwaukee Irish Dance troupes
Music from nearly 250 artists from around the world, sung in both English and Irish
Stages for Céilí dancing
An area to learn Céilí dance
Celebrations of Irish sport:Gaelic Football, Hurling, and Currach racing
Authentic Irish Cuisine
A 5k Run/Walk to the festival
Poetry and photography contests
Liturgy for Peace and Justice held in the Marcus Amphitheater on Sunday morningThe annual closing event is the Scattering, a gathering of many of the festival's musicians playing together in one combined session, with fifty or more musicians on the stage at one time not uncommon.
Irish people the world over come to see the festival from as far off as England, Scotland, Egypt, Pakistan and Ireland itself. Many of Ireland's news stations will send reporters over to cover the festival.
Irish Fest celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005, which saw the opening of the new Celtic Roots stage. President of Ireland, Mary McAleese also attended that year's fest.
Each year, a particular Irish family name (clan) is honored at the festival.
Some of the Irish clan names that have been honored:
2005: All festival Volunteers (in honor of 25th anniversary of Irish Fest)
2006: Toomey/Twomey (O'Tuama)
2014: O'LoughlinThe Irish Catholic
The Irish Catholic is an Irish weekly Roman Catholic newspaper, providing news and commentary about the Roman Catholic Church. The 32-page broadsheet paper is delivered worldwide.
The newspaper is managed by a private limited company and is independent of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland.