The history of the Galway Hooker...
Like so many other fishing ports throughout Europe and the world, Galway and the Claddagh have their own 'Traditional' boat... the 'Galway Hooker'.
There are 4 types of Galway Hooker Boats. The largest vessel, the Bád Mór, is 35 to 44 feet in length. The second largest, the Leath Bhád or "half-boat", is about 32 feet. The other two boats are the Gleoiteog - 24 to 28 feet - and the Púcán.
The Galway Hooker has a distinctive design but where it originated is not clear. Some claim there may be infleunces from different traditions like Norway and Cornwall. The boats are noted for their strong, sharp bow and sides that curve wide outward, along with the traditional Maroon or Black sails. One main sail and two foresails on one single mast. The boat would be mostly built of oak and was sturdy, stable and quick, which would allow fisherman navigate the tricky passages of Galway Bay.
Today the Galway Hookers are rarely used on a day-to-day basis but do appear at annual meetings and events, such as the Kinvara festival of Cruinniú na mBád (Gathering of the Boats) and the annual Blessing of the Boats.
The history of the Claddagh...
The Irish word cladach means "stony shore" and this is how the area known as Claddagh got its name. The Claddagh was once a fishing village on the western shore of the mouth of the river Corrib, with the larger city being on the opposite side.
The Claddagh was a distinct community and had its own king. it was the King who led the fishing fleet and made any community decisions.
The original thatched cottages of the Claddagh where the fishermen and their families lived are no longer to be seen but the area is still a clearly-defined one around the Dominican Church of St Mary. The drawing below shows an early map of The Claddagh. Click on it to view a larger version.