New book celebrates wooden boat tradition

November 27th, 2019 7:11 AM

By Southern Star Team

Phil Jackson and Fachtna O'Sullivan caulking the port side of the Ilen in an image from the book . (Photo: Kevin O'Farrell)

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A NEW book on Hegarty’s Boatyard in Skibbereen, the country’s last surviving traditional wooden boatyard in the country, has just been published. 

It’s a 176-page photographic essay is by Kevin O’Farrell, who describes Hegarty’s as ‘the last echo of a long tradition of boat building in Ireland that once took place all around our coast.’

He writes: ‘In this era of volume-produced fibreglass boats, Hegarty’s yard exists in a world that is fast disappearing – one where skills and traditions are passed down from one generation to the next, and beautiful hand-crafted boats are made with passion and integrity. Hegarty’s yard is the only boatyard in Ireland that has produced such a wide range of hand-crafted wooden boats over the last 25 years, enabling the revival of the once-lost fishing yawls of West Cork.’

This book is a celebration of all traditional wooden boat builders but most especially the wonderful craftsmen of Hegarty’s Boatyard. 

This yard was established by Paddy Hegarty shortly after the Second World War, and now his grandson Paddy Hegarty is the third generation of Hegarty boat builders to work at the same site on the banks of the River Ilen. 

‘Watching these boat builders at work today offers an insight into previous generations of craft workers as their tools and skills remain unchanged. It is an honour to witness this work and to record this important maritime heritage for future generations. While our past heritage is respected and commemorated in museums and publications, there is very little in the way of support for our living craft heritage workers. This book seeks to rectify that and serves as a tribute to the extraordinary living maritime heritage that is practiced daily in Hegarty’s yard,’ said Kevin.  

The book, will next April, form the largest single touring Irish photography exhibition touring Ireland and then the UK spending six months in the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall in which over 70,000 people will see a small part of West Cork heritage.

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