19th July

The Artist on the Island

Review artist on an island

This is a beautifully illustrated follow-up memoir to Pete Hogan’s highly acclaimed The Log of the Molly B.

After the adventures of building his own boat and sailing it from Canada down the west coast of the US, through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic to Ireland, Pete decided to settle down and dedicate his life to his art in the remote surroundings of Achillbeg Island, just south of Achill, Co Mayo.

A very different kind of adventure ensued. As the only inhabitant on the island, Pete had to use all his resources to survive the kind of harsh winter experienced in the west of Ireland, while all the time making art. With a touch of Robinson Crusoe, Pete describes in detail what it’s like – physically and mentally – to fend for oneself in a stunningly beautiful, but extremely isolated, environment.

Read more: The Artist on the Island

Uncertainty in Dún Laoghaire following sudden departure of the harbour master

Frank Allen left Dún Laoghaire at the end of June, barely twelve months after his high profile appointment. Photo Gillian Mills/Inshore Ireland

Frank Allen left Dún Laoghaire at the end of June, barely twelve months after his high profile appointment. Photo Gillian Mills/Inshore Ireland

John Hearne

Mystery surrounds the departure of Captain Frank Allen from his role as harbour master at Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company Co Dublin after less than one year in the job.

Despite repeated attempts by Inshore Ireland to query the circumstances surrounding the departure, the state-owned company has not responded to questions. Similarly, Captain Allen has declined to comment.

The company confirmed last month that Frank Allen left Dún Laoghaire at the end of June, barely twelve months after his high-profile appointment. Insiders in the port sector have expressed mystification at the suddenness of his departure.

Read more: Uncertainty in Dún Laoghaire following sudden departure of the harbour master

A model world of painstaking precision

John Caden

Over the past twenty years, Nigel Towse has become a leading figure in the traditional boat revival movement in West Cork. In company with Liam Hegarty of Hegarty’s boatyard in Baltimore, he has built An Rún – a 32’ Cape Clear mackerel drifter, and Hanorah – a 25’ Heir Island lobster boat. 

1:10 scale model of Hanorah. Photo Robbie Murphy

An Rún is a copy of a 19th Century gaff-rigged trawling boat; Hanorah is a complete and faithful restoration by Nigel of a ruined 1892 lobster boat that was dug from the mud in a harbour close to Schull.


8.3coastlinenews_hanorah.jpgNigel Towse carefully applies the rigging. Photo Robbie Murphy

Exact model
With that real-size boat building challenge under his belt, Nigel has taken to building 1:10 scale models, of which Hanorah is the first. Every piece of wood, metal, rope and canvas is a precise one-tenth of each and every part and fitting that made up the original.  In another century from now, an enthusiast or a museum could scale it up to make an exact copy of a Heir Island Lobster Boat from this model. Nigel refers to his scale models as “portable maritime history”, ready as he says, “to be exhibited in any place or space”.

The Heir Island lobster boats were unusual for their time in that they had sail and not just oars.  This meant they could travel long distances for their catch.  These boats were introduced to the islanders by a boat builder, Christopher Pyburn, who married into the island in the mid-1800s.  The islanders quickly took advantage of their better technology to fish nomadically along the south coast, shore-hopping until eventually landing their catches in Kinsale for transport to France and England, and to Cobh for the transatlantic liners.

The internal combustion engine put an end to the use of sail in the fishing industry and Hanorah like so many traditional boats was left to rot.

“I came upon her stuck in mud beside the outfall of a septic tank.  A tree had fallen across her and snapped off a quarter of the starboard side.  I fell in love with her.  I knew in my soul that she had to be restored and that somebody had to do it.  I became that somebody.”

Boat-building clutter
When Nigel restored the original Hanorah he wanted it to be exactly as it was in the 1890s and admits to becoming a bit obsessed with getting it exactly right and was delighted to get advice.

“A retired fisherman from Cape Clear, ‘Mac’ Donoghue, advised me to shorten the mast and the gaff;  George Bushe, the boatbuilder from Crosshaven, showed me how to fashion wooden fairleads and how to arrange the authentic sheeting arrangement .I’ve even got her painted in the same grey and green colours as the day she was launched.”

All around Nigel’s workshop is boat-building clutter:  On one bench are off-cuts of larch, oak, teak, deal and cloth to make frames, planks, spars and sails. On another are metal sheets and nails to be fashioned into miniature iron work. The precision and skill in his work would do justice to a doll maker’s shop in Dresden or an horologist’s room in a 19the Century Swiss watch factory.

Nigel’s first commission for his scale models was by an American, Tom Henry, who holidays annually in  Baltimore and who crews the lobster boats in local festivals and races. 

Now, on cold winter’s nights back in Pennsylvania, when rain hits hard on his side of the Atlantic too, he can look to his little Hanorah in the window and think of fair winds, sunnier times,  and his portable piece of the maritime history of West Cork. 

News from Bere Island

John Walsh

The West Cork islands’ Interagency Group applied to the West Cork Enterprise Board to fund a consultant to organise and run an islands economic day in Bantry on Thursday October 20th.

Jackie Gowran is the consultant, and she has many years experience working with people who want to start their own business; she also runs mentoring sessions with existing businesses. She will use an ‘island based’ approach and the event is targeting all islanders, not just business people.

The workshop will look at building the brand of the West Cork Islands and ideas for a logo and website will also form part of the workshops.

Read more: News from Bere Island

Grant-aid committed to light up piers on Donegal islands

Máirín Uí Fhearraigh

Dinny McGinley T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has announced grant aid amounting to €67,000 to Donegal County Council towards providing lights for various piers on off-shore islands in Donegal.

This is a 75% grant with the remaining 25% being funded by the County Council.  Announcing the investment Minister McGinley that funding for new and additional lighting “is evidence of the commitment of this Government to ensuring the continued viability of our island lifestyle. At a time when there is unprecedented pressure on resources, I am particularly pleased to make this allocation,” he said.

“Our off shore islands have a unique attraction and these facilities will greatly enhance them as a tourist destination as well as for the islanders themselves.”

Location

Type of light  Number Cost
Gola Island Conventional 3 €10,500
Inishsirrer Hybrid 1 €14,500
Rutland Island Conventional  1 €4,000
Island Roy      
(Cabhsa) Conventional 3 €9,000
 (Sleamhnán) Conventional 1 €4,000
Inishmeane Hybrid  1  €14,500
Owey Island Hybrid 1 €10,500
 TOTAL      €67,000

  

Hobblers Challenge in Dublin Bay

J Ashmore

Ringsend-based St. Patrick’s Rowing Club’s skiff Naomh Padraig under the coxswain of Ken Cunningham took line honours in a time of 2:57:36 for the much coveted Hobblers Challenge cup. Courtown Harbour Rowing Club took second place (3:3:19) and third place honours went to Stella Maris Rowing Club (3:16.00). Host club, St Michaels based in the Coal Harbour Dún Laoghaire, passed under the high walls of the East Pier Lighthouse and battery two minutes later in fourth place.

hobblers-challenge

2011 Hobblers Challenge, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin                                                  Photo Gillian Mills

Ten boats from four East coast skiff rowing clubs participated in the end-of-season Hobblers Challenge – a gruelling 25km rowing race from Dún Laoghaire Harbour to the Kish Lighthouse and back.

The race is held in memory of the men known as ‘Hobblers’ who once rowed out to met ships at anchor in Dublin Bay and along the east coast. The first hobbler to reach a ship and land a hook on deck was awarded pilotage and unloading of the cargo.  The trade survived until the 1930s when the last of Irish Sea trading schooners disappeared.

Read more: Hobblers Challenge in Dublin Bay

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