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Bord Iascaigh Mhara's 32ft boats were ‘life changers'

May 8th, 2016 11:50 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Pat Nolan: boat historian.

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HAVING previously traced the histories of the 50-foot boats built by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) in his book Sea Change, and later BIM’s 56-footers in A Step Up, the Baltimore-born writer, Pat Nolan, has now turned his attention BIM’s 32-ft Béal boats.

His new book Life Changers details how there was low demand and poor prices paid for lobster in the 1940s and how this resulted in many pre-World War II boats being laid up and falling into disrepair.

No longer suitable to meet demand when an upturn came, during the 1950s, new boats were needed. 

As was the case when BIM introduced the 50-footers at a time of former great need, it was the same Bord that came to the rescue on this occasion. 

The availability of the new boats – 36 in all – not only injected new life into the industry, it also provided employment at a time when emigration figures were registering at almost 1,000 per week.

In his new book, Pat Nolan has some fine photographic illustrations and chronicles, in as far as possible, a comprehensive history of each Béal boat built. And he acknowledges the tremendous response from those who owned the boats, fished on them, or otherwise knew of them.

The book also features a selection of interesting and humorous stories from the fishermen he met in various ports around Ireland and concludes with a summary of his coastal visits over several years.

Pat, who now lives in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, has several publications to his credit including: When We Were Young, Flashbacks, Sea Caress, Following the Shoals, and Beside the Mango Tree.

Life Changers is Pat’s eighth book. It is published by Clachan Publishing and is available at O’Donovan’s Bookshop in Skibbereen and the Mizen Visitors’ Centre.

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