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Workshop set to push the boat out at SkyCourt

Pat Kelly, centre, manager of the SkyCourt Shopping Centre, with Greg Duff, chairperson of Dúchas Na Sionna, Brendan Nolan, manager of Dunnes Stores and members of the West Clare Curragh Club with one of the completed vessels. Photograph by Declan MonaghanA CURRACH-BUILDING workshop will be taking place in SkyCourt from this Monday until October 2. Shoppers will be able to watch progress being made on the construction of a three-hand West Clare fishing currach as it takes place in a unit within the shopping centre.
The workshop is part of a skills-sharing initiative to keep traditional currach building skills alive in the county.
Greg Duff is chairperson of local heritage group Dúchas na Sionna, which is backing the project. “It’s part of a West Clare Currach Club initiative to build 10 currachs throughout Clare. We have facilitated the building of one in Shannon with the co-operation of Pat Kelly of SkyCourt.
“People might remember where the Paddy Power outlet was in SkyCourt, it’ll be built in there.”
He said that Kilrush man James Madigan would be leading the project and showing how a currach should be built.
“There is a lot of skill involved. James had the skills passed down to him from his grandfather and he’s been building these for years now.
“As a heritage group, Dúchas na Sionna is happy to facilitate this project. What we would love to happen is for a currach club to start in the Shannon-Bunratty area.”
Those who would like to spend a little time working on the project will be included, he said. “There will be between six and eight people involved but people who’d like to come in and do a few hours won’t be excluded. If you want to come in for a little while, you’ll be welcome. The shop window will be cleared so people can watch when they’re passing.”
James Madigan said he had been involved in currach building for many years.
“I served my time with my grandfather when I was a young fella, he would have been the last currach builder in Clare. About five years ago, we formed the West Clare Currach Club.
“We got funding through the Clare Local Development Company to construct eight currachs, so I’m providing the expertise and the tuition for that.”
He said that a lot of work goes into the building of a currach.
“There’ll be a lot of preparation to be done. To start off with, you’ve got to select your timber. Not just any old timber will do.
“Then I’ll cut out all the components and bring it all into the shopping centre. With a group of five or six we’ll put it together through the week. We’ve five or six people, all from different backgrounds, who are all eager to get building.”

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