Hooker to be launched for first time in almost 100 years

 

A restored Shannon hooker is due to be launched off the west Clare coastline this week for the first time in almost a century.

The 7.62m (25ft) wooden sailing vessel, smaller and less celebrated than its Galway cousin, was built to carry turf on the Shannon estuary when it was a busy artery for shipping and transport.

The gaff-rigged craft, named Sally O’Keeffe, will be used for sail training by the Seol Sionna community boat-building project. The Leader-funded scheme was initiated by members of the West Clare Currach Club in Kilkee.

The project team has traced the craft’s history, locating 19th-century reports that recorded how “turf boats” sailed regularly from Querrin quay loaded with “peninsular turf for sale in Limerick, returning home with supplies of merchandise for the turf owners”. The boats were often owned by shopkeepers, according to maritime historian Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh.

The fleet was replaced by lorries as road transport became more popular during the early years of the second World War.

The Sally O’Keeffe will be launched on Saturday at 5pm from Querrin, Co Clare. Weather permitting, it will sail to Carrigaholt as part of a parade of craft.

Coincidentally, another Shannon craft, the “gandelow” – an adaptation of the word “gondola” – will be raced in Limerick for the first time in 65 years on Saturday, when five new craft of this design compete at the inaugural Ilen-Gandelow regatta.