Revolutionising the Sea: The Evolution of Currach Design on the West Clare Coast

Image: Liscannor Harbour c.1890 Lawrence Collection National Library of Ireland

The North Clare Historical Society is delighted to announce an enthralling lecture evening that sails through time to uncover the innovative wave of currach design and construction in the early nineteenth century. This exclusive event, featuring the esteemed Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, is set to anchor at the Courthouse, Ennistymon, on Monday 25th March at 8 pm.

In the early 1800s, the rugged west coast of Clare became the cradle of a maritime revolution that transformed the traditional currach, using pioneering industrial materials such as cotton canvas, coal tar, and milled timber. This wave of innovation, primarily centred in the Liscannor district, was driven by the desire to enhance the currach's performance and affordability, making it a vessel better suited to the challenging conditions of the Atlantic.

Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, a luminary with an extensive background in folklore and archaeology, will steer us through this fascinating journey of transformation. As a former Director of the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin and editor of the seminal work "Traditional Boats of Ireland, History, Folklore and Construction," Mac Cárthaigh brings unparalleled insights into the cultural and technological shifts that shaped currach design.

The lecture will explore the crucial role of the Fisheries Board in incentivizing the evolution of the currach, moving away from the smaller, hide-covered naomhóg to a design that was both longer and deeper, thus more adept for the exposed coastlines of Clare and beyond. The influence of Royal Navy engineer, Captain Frazer, in this innovative design process underscores a unique intersection of local craftsmanship and naval engineering expertise.

This event promises to be a deep dive into the cultural landscape of Ireland's Atlantic island and coastal communities, revealing the indelible impact of these design innovations on traditional boat-making. Whether you're a maritime enthusiast, a history buff, or simply captivated by Ireland's rich cultural tapestry, this lecture is an unmissable journey into the heart of Clare's nautical heritage.

Admission is €8, and all are welcome to what promises to be an enlightening evening. Join us at the Courthouse, Ennistymon, as we chart the course of currach design's remarkable voyage through history.

Éanna Byrt March 21, 2024
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