Currach crews from all over Ireland are set to take to the waters of Skerries this weekend for the fourth annual Three Island Challenge.
The race, which starts at 2pm on Saturday, June 18, will see teams rowing their currachaí for 6.5km kilometres around the three famous islands – Colt, St Patrick’s and Shennick. Participants must get out of their boats at Shennick to collect a flag before making the final sprint to South Strand.
Up to 15 boats from Clare, Mayo, Donegal, Antrim, Down, Meath and Dublin are expected to take part on the day.
Currachaí na Sceirí entered three boats in last year’s challenge, two of which were built by members; the third, a renovated Aran Island boat. They have added significantly to their fleet since then and hope to have five boats in the race this weekend.
In late 2021, a bereaved family in Cork offered the Skerries seafarers three boats, including a Toraigh, a two-hander Naomhóg and a Dunfannaghy. In addition, they had an opportunity to purchase a north Mayo-style Balderrig, which had previously featured in ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘King Aurthur’.
The Skerries club recently participated in the Liffey Regatta where they enjoyed some success in the mixed category. Five members also took part in the Ocean to City Race in Cork earlier this month, competing against teams from the US, Holland, UK and Ireland over a 13km distance.
The first Three Island Challenge was held in 2019 after a group of local enthusiasts decided to build a boat in a member’s shed. They originally used the currach to access the islands for clean-up operations before coming up with the idea for the annual race.
Prior to the formation of Currachaí na Sceirí in 2018, members had used kayaks for island clean-ups, with more than 16,000 items of litter collected to date.
In setting up the currach club, the group’s members were inspired by the craftsmanship of traditional boat builders and a famous Guinness TV ad from 1977.
Spectators are welcome to attend Saturday’s event, with competitors due to arrive from 12 noon, but are asked to keep a reasonable distance as crews move and operate their boats.
The club has also advised that the event is weather-dependent.