The Irish Currach.

The Irish currach is among the oldest types of boats in the world, when Julius Caesar noted seeing ocean going Irish Currach's in the Atlantic some time after the Roman invasion of Britain the curragh's had been around for thousands of years. The ones Creaser observed may have been trading with Europe

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In its simplest form the Curragh is little more than a wicker basket over which is stretched a cow hide. This type of craft has been in use for many thousands of years on all of Ireland's major rivers. The following link is a video shot in 1935 it shows the construction of a Boyne Coracle.

Slide show of Michael O'Brien (born 1853) making a Boyne Currach,

There is no doubt that the vast majority of Ireland's early settlers arrived by boat, perhaps just a few of the the earliest may have traveled on foot across a land bridge, before it was submerged by rising sea levels as the ice mass melted. The fact is we don't really know and it is unlikely that we ever will.

Today there is something of a revival in the Irish Currach with the formation of clubs for currach racing. Many of these clubs run building courses, there are many subtly different types of currach's to be found across Ireland. These are categorised by geographical location, ranging from the Donegal ggg in the north to the Kerry in the south. There is little if any tradition remaining of the use of currach's on the east coast. We know from the historical record that currach type vessels were used extensively by tribes inhabiting the eastern seaboard.

The fact that the currach is alive and well on the west coast, can probably be ascribed to several factors, firstly but not primarily the west coast, particularly the offshore islands are very sparely wooded. The design of the currach enabled it to be built with a minimal amount of wood, the majority of which need not be more than a few years old as in the hazel rods used as frames.

Times and life has always been lean on the west coast, particularly so after the plantation and subsequent Cromwellian invasion in the 1640's.

Archive footage of Boyne currach making....

Kilkee Curragh.

Michael O'Leary Curragh Builder

And also on You Tube