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Allihies rows in to get traditional boat on the water

July 2nd, 2022 10:10 PM

By Helen Riddell

David Dudley with coxswain Mark Southgate and Brian and Una O’Sullivan on the boat. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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ALLIHIES Men’s Shed recently launched its restored traditional boat, to great celebration, at Garnish Pier.

The boat, named the Dursey Clipper, was rowed by a crew from Castletownbere Rowing Club on her maiden voyage around Garnish Harbour. Members of the Allihies Singers sang sea shanties on the pier which was thronged with well-wishers.

Allihies Men’s Shed was set up in 2014 as a means to tackle rural isolation in the area. The shed is facilitated by David Dudley and Seamus Irwin, and is based in a purpose-built facility in Allihies.

David Dudley outlined how the boat restoration project came about: ‘We talked about restoring a traditional boat for some time, then in October 2018 we spread the word that we were looking for an old traditional boat of the exact type that was fished in this area. When Jimmy Harrington from Dursey Island heard this, he immediately offered his old boat to us.’

Members of the group travelled to Dursey Island to view the boat, and a decision was made to go ahead with the project. The group arranged for the boat to be transported to the mainland and onto the Men’s Shed.

Restoration started in late 2019, but by March 2020 the group was forced to put the project on hold due to Covid- 19 restrictions. In late 2021 the group was finally able to get back to the shed and carry on with the restoration.

They applied to Cork Education and Training Board for tuition assistance from a boat builder who allocated Dave Nolan to work with them. They also applied for BIM Flag funding and were granted an 80% grant to complete the project. The remainder of the funding, David said, was donated by local fishing companies. ‘Paddy and Elnora O’Sullivan of POS Fishing and Fast Fish each donated €500. Once the funding was in place, we were then in a position to hire Dave Nolan to help us with the more complex parts of the restoration,’ he said.

The project has generated great interest in the local area, with many offering the group their support.

‘We’ve been getting a lot of attention the last few months, with retired fishermen from neighbouring parishes visiting the shed to view the boat, all offering us encouragement and advice, and wishing us well, and not just locally. It’s provided a big talking point for the diaspora who are delighted to see the old traditions being kept alive.’

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