Tuesday 20 March 2018

Attention to detail key in building traditional skiff

Terry Keogh of Bray Rowing Club and a team of three others spent months meticulously building a traditional racing skiff for the club.

They built the boat by hand and the work was extremely intricate. The four men worked on the craft in the clubhouse at the seafront and attracted a lot of attention from members of the public during the process.

Terry is a carpenter by trade and has just retired as a woodwork teacher in Dun Laoghaire. He had the hand skills required and put a lot of work in to researching the process.

He has been involved in rowing for over 40 years and it was a real labour of love for Terry to produce a new vessel for Bray. He explained that some time ago the East Coast Rowing Council were looking for a fleet and sourced a builder in Cornwall who sent the spec and moulds over.

This provided Terry with the information he needed to go ahead with building the traditional racing skiff.

He also used the internet and various Youtube videos to guide him through the undertaking. The procedure involved was different from his own carpentry experience as there were no straight lines in the boat structure.

Terry said that wood is a great material to work with, as no two pieces are the same.

'Plunkett Connelly, who used to work out of the harbour in Bray in the 1970s, was the last one to build these boats in the town,' said Terry.

He added that a lot of families and amateur boat builders used to make their own crafts in Bray.

The four men said that they were very satisfied to have finished their project, which was very slow, painstaking work and took them three months.

Terry is now building a second boat for Dalkey Rowing Club and said he learned so much from the first project that the skills he acquired will transfer to this project.

The skiff has since won a few races for Bray Rowing Club.

'Hopefully we'll get a further 60 years or more out of it,' said Terry, who added that it's a very nice boat which goes well on the water.

He admitted that he's like a 'mother hen' when it's being launched or brought back in, to ensure that it's done properly and the skiff is not damaged on the stony beach at Bray.

The craft was launched last summer, with a blessing from Fr. Enda Lloyd, while Ger and Josephine Fitzsimmons christened it with a bottle of champagne. It was named the 'Ruarí Micheala' in memory of club member the late Rory Doyla and the late Michaela Fitzimmons, daughter of Ger and Josephine.

Wicklow People