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11 May 2016

A number of local Irish language enthusiasts from Armagh-based community group CAIRDE Teo joined forces recently to build a traditional Irish currach boat, in conjunction with the Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association located in Maghery. The group visited the Maghery Men’s Shed group over a period of three months to build the currach from scratch, using traditional methods and raw materials. The wooden structure, which was launched last Saturday in Maghery for its first sailing on Lough Neagh, was based on the old Gabhla Island style currach.

The group were inspired to build a Gabhla-style boat having visited the island, also known in English as Gola Island, which lies off the coast of the Donegal Gaeltacht parish of Gaoth Dobhair. The group from Armagh, who had no previous experience in building boats, were supervised and guided by the team from Maghery who have all previously build their own vessels. As well as the woodwork and joinery needed to put the structure in place, the Cairde Teo group were also responsible for sewing the canvass tight to the boat and tarring the bottom of the currach before the launch.

The group are planning to sail out to Gabhla Island during the summer from the pier at Machaire Gathláin and to take part in a number of currach challenges against other similar language and heritage organisations on Lough Neagh and Carlingford Lough. The currach building project was part of a programme of physical activity organised by Cairde Teo, thanks to funding from Awards for All. As well as the boatbuilding, the group also spent time on Craigavon Lakes learning sailing and kayaking skills.