Traditional boats of Ireland photographed by boatbuilder and weblogger Tiernan Roe

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Tiernan Roe 1

Heir Island lobster boat Rose and Galway hooker An Faoilean Tiernan Roe 2

Heir Island lobster boat Saoirse Muireann owned byhistorian and
author Cormac Levis

The two gaffers in the upper photo are Rose an Heir Island lobster boat on the left and An Faoilean a Galway hooker on the right. The Saoirse Muireann below is another Heir Island lobster boat, and is owned by historian Cormac Levis author of the well known and highly regarded book Towelsail Yawls describing the sailing lobsterboats of Heir Island and Roaringwater Bay.

The photos have been sent in by Tiernan Roe, boatbuilder and weblogger based at Ballydehob, West Cork.

From the 1870s to the 1950s, sailing boats dominated the lobster fishery of Ireland’s south coast, and the lobstermen lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle over a hundred hundred nautical mile stretch of coastline in the small open boats, yet it’s said that until Levis did his research and wrote Towelsail Yawls, their way of life had been in danger of passing unrecorded. I should add that although it was published as recently as 2002, the book already seems difficult to find – which seems to suggest that he did an excellent job.

As a bonus, here are three photos of a John Atkin Ninigret 22ft outboard boat that Tiernan’s currently building being turned over at his Ballydehob workshop. Follow his weblog Roeboats at

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Yachting archive to preserve sailing’s heritage launched by Clare Francis

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Growing concern about loss of historically significant information has prompted the formation of a new charity, the British National Yachting Archive.

If you can remember web addresses, it’s at:

The launch itself took place at the London Boat Show yesterday evening and was announced officially by Association of Yachting Historians president, novelist and sailor Clare Francis.

The new organisation says it hopes to:

• Promote the preservation of sailing’s heritage
• Establish a knowledge base of yachting heritage and provide public access
• Facilitate the presentation and display of yachting heritage at appropriate museums and other organisations
• Provide grants, bursaries and scholarships for those who would advance knowledge and understanding of yachting heritage

It also hopes to find homes for private collections, many of which have no future once their owner passes on and are frequently lost.

‘It also hopes to find homes for private collections,
many of which have no future once their owner
passes on and are frequently lost.’

The Archive will represent a broad definition of sailing including dinghy sailing and motor boating, as well as all the support industries. It will be a a virtual archive with web-based resources that identify and link to information wherever it resides, including clubs, classes, museums, businesses and the media.

As much of material is not stored or catalogued to archival standards, help and advice will be provided where necessary, and in the longer term, the BNYA hopes to digitise large amounts of material to facilitate easy access.

The BNYA is a membership-based charity, with membership fees used to further the work of the Archive and jointly fund grant-aided projects – chairman David Elliott says that there is a great deal of catching up to do, so membership needs to build quickly.

Some of the first research projects will be to collect oral histories, and the BNYA has a growing list of people it feels should be interviewed as soon as possible. That makes a lot of sense to me, as it seems clear that too many people have passed on without having their memories recorded.

Download a pdf explaining the BNYA’s background here.

If you can, watch this BBC Alba film about fifies and zulus before it disappears

It’s in Gaelic and subtitled in English, but who cares when it features fifies and the remains of a zulu described by real experts? Click here, and settle back for a few very happy minutes.

My thanks to the kind folks of the Yahoogroup Openboat for pointing out the link.

For more on zulus, fifies and such at, click here.