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Members of the Clarecastle Men's Shed and Clarecastle and Ballyea Heritage & Widlife Group at the launch of the punt. Photograph by John Power

Clarecastle Men’s Shed takes a punt on latest project


CLARECASTLE’S Men’s Shed certainly took a punt when it came to their latest project, the results of which they quite literally launched this week.

On Wednesday the members of the shed set a 20 foot punt boat out on the water at Clarecastle Quay having lovingly built the vessel over the last couple of months.

A complete photographic record of the construction of the boat has been kept by the  Clarecastle & Ballyea Heritage & Wildlife Group. With Eric Shaw of the group saying, “This will be an important archival record”.

The Clarecastle Men’s Shed were commissioned to build the punt boat, with a boat of this design not been built in Clarecastle since the 1960s.

It is believed the late Tommy Considine was probably the last man to build a punt boat in Clarecastle and two of his boats still survive. One was donated to the Clarecastle & Ballyea Heritage & Wildlife Group in 2018.

The Men’s Shed were delighted to get the opportunity to keep an old craft alive. Under the direction of Johnny Scanlan, an experienced builder of the Fergus fishing boat, the gandalow, and Donal O’Brien, a skilled carpenter, the work started in March of this year.

The timber for the boat had to be sourced in 24 foot lengths and the floor was laid out in the Men’s Shed. Many of men in the Shed were involved in the work, ranging from carpentry to painting. Recycled teak and mahogany woods were used in the frame of the boat. The punt boat is now completed to a high standard.

In order to add to the story, this new punt boat has been fitted with one of the old punt guns that the Heritage Group has in its collection.

These guns were brought to Clarecastle in 1889 by a Dublin business man, George Vincent, who had married Mary J. Callinan, daughter of Sinon Callinan of Clarecastle. The guns were last fired over 50 years ago to shoot duck and geese on the Fergus Sloblands.

The new punt boat with the punt gun was launched at Clarecastle Quay on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by the Men’s Shed who were delighted to see its work afloat in a setting that would be very familiar to the older inhabitants of Clarecastle.

“This was a historic event and one for the records,” said Eric. “This is a great achievement by the Men’s Shed and an historic one for the village. These type of boats and guns provided an income for the salmon fishermen here in the old days, when the salmon were out of season. The duck and geese provided food but also they were sold to Lane’s in Ennis and gave the men cash.”

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