Tradition to the fore as Haugheys reprise their regatta role
THERE was no break in tradition -- either in the type of boats used, or in who sounded the starting shot.
Conor Haughey, son of the late Charles Haughey, also presented the prizes to the winners of yesterday's Dingle Regatta.
He was joined in the west Kerry town by his brothers Ciaran and Sean, sister Eimear and their families for the annual regatta that has taken place since 1857.
Still, the people of Dingle are quick to defend the former taoiseach and there were few detractors at the weekend's races.
"Charles Haughey was a great man for Dingle," said Dingle Regatta chairman Eddie Hutchinson, who at 70 is still making the traditional naomhog boats used for the racing.
Another familiar sight in the pier yesterday was the former taoiseach's 'Celtic Mist' yacht, recently donated by the family to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
More than 80 crews from all over the country competed in the races, but honours for the men's and women's senior races went to Kerry teams; the Griffin brothers and Michael O'Leary took the men's title while the women's team was lead by Maunza Heidke.
The locals had a clear advantage over competitors from other parts of the country in that they're used to the 25ft vessels, which take a team of four, compared with the 21ft currach of Galway, which can only fit three people.
Making the boats is a tradition that Mr Hutchinson has passed on, but he says some materials are now banned.
"The boats are made out of timber, canvas and tar but the tar and the red lead for the paint are banned in Ireland and have to be brought in from England," he added.
The racing naomhog are slightly smaller than the fishing boats that can hold a cargo of up to 4,000 mackerel, he explained.
Although the use of naomhogs for fishing has almost died out, Mr Hutchinson still makes about five new boats every year.