Thursday 17 January 2019

Making a Splash: The Inishbofin Currachs and New €100,000 Fund

Project participants Marc Cunnane and Niall Coyne with master craftsman Pat Folan
Project participants Marc Cunnane and Niall Coyne with master craftsman Pat Folan

Behind every currach is a story.

Making a splash on Inishbofin, the first of four new currachs has been delivered to the community in an inspirational project that sees them built from scratch by the island’s young people.

This beautiful hand-crafted vessel demonstrates that an age-old tradition is being kept alive off the coast of Connemara.

Under the guidance of a local master craftsman Pat Folan, who was eager to pass on his boat-building knowledge, the Inishbofin Community Project was made possible through a grant of €10,000 from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.

Now in its seventh year, the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund was set up in 2011 to mark the 125th anniversary of the company. This year, a further €100,000 is being awarded through the Fund to worthy projects the inspire and support young people across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The first currach in the series had its maiden voyage from the Old Pier on the Co. Galway island during the recent Inishbofin Arts Festival. Each currach created through the project is named after a village on Inishbofin – the first is called ‘Fawnmore’.

The remaining three 23-foot currachs – the next will be named ‘Cloonamore’ – will have their maiden voyages at the Inishbofin Regatta on August 12th and 13th, which the island is currently gearing up for.

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The currach departs on its maiden voyage from the Old Pier on Inishbofin.

Inishbofin has a population of 175, and 11 young islanders aged between 14 and 20 have been involved in the project to date.

The inspiration for the project came from Siobhan Ryan, Manager of the Inishbofin Community Service Programme.

“I came up with the idea when out walking my dog on the beach one day. I saw the broken currachs and thought to myself that the island needs it – the older people on the island can build currachs but this is something that the younger generation can now benefit from. It was a simple idea but perfect for the island and everybody got behind it.”

“The boats being launched reflect the very hard work of the young people of Inishbofin,” says Ryan. “They worked very long hours over weekends and evenings. In addition to the skills of currach building, they learned other skills from motivation to working as part of a team and of course essential leadership skills.”

Ronan Farren, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Ireland with project participant Niall Coyne.

The currachs will be available on scheduled summer evenings for locals and tourists alike to use, but as Ryan points out “locals here don’t need rowing classes.”

Tourists will be taught by the islanders and the boats will be kept at the Old Pier on Inishbofin, eventually coming under the supervision of the Regatta committee.

“People are really happy with how it has all turned out. It has been a great experience for myself and all the islanders and for everybody involved and it was a pleasure working with Coca-Cola and their team on this”.

The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund is currently looking for projects from non-profit organizations with new ideas. The big theme this year is – ‘Working with communities in Ireland and Northern Ireland to inspire and support young people’. Within this theme, the Fund is seeking applications which fall under one or more of the following three categories:

· Bridging the divide between education and the workplace

· Fostering diversity and inclusion among young people

· Empowering young people aged 12 to 25 to become the leaders of the future

Applications will be accepted here until July 14th.

Sponsored by: Coca-Cola Thank You Fund

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