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Cruinniu na mBad festival in Kinvara County Galway
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Cruinniu na mBad   ~  Kinvara

The Cruinniu na mBad festival, held annually in Kinvara celebrates the survival of the Galway Hooker and Ireland's other traditional boats.
The continuity of traditional sailing festivals, and especially Cruinniú na mBád, is very important for the survival of the craftsmanship of traditional boat building, sail making, etc.

Cruinniu na mBad festival in Kinvara County Galway
The festival also promotes the art of traditional sailing and the culture that surrounds it, e.g. sean nós singing, the Irish language, etc.

These boats were at one time used extensively to ferry cattle, sheep, pigs, turf and other necessities of life, up and down the western seaboard, before the advent of trains and motorised transport made them redundent.

In August of 1979, Kinvara man, Tony Moylan, fulfilled a dream when he brought back the old boats laden with turf to Kinvara, creating a link with the not too distant past when the same boats and skippers made their living under sail. Thankfully there were traditional sailors, boat builders, and sail makers surviving in the 70s, and to the present time, who have passed on their skills to the new generation.

In 2003 Kinvara celebrated the 25th anniversary of that first Cruinniu na mBad festival with a weekend that included not only the sailing tradition of the Turf Boats, but also included the recently revived Mackerel Boats and Towel Sail Yawls of West Cork, Bantry Longboats, Wexford Cots, Achill Yawls, Donegal Drondheims, as well as the Kinvara-based Manx Nobby.

Kinvara is also the home port of the Hooker MacDuach, Leathbhád An Traonach, and an ever increasing number of Gleoiteogs and currachs and a classic Laurent Giles, Khepri. More recently a fleet of 25 or more locally built "Herons" is ensuring a continued supply of enthusiastic young "Bádóirí" into the future. 2003 marked the publication of "Turfboats, the story of Cruinniú na mBád" by Tom Quinn.

Today, the Galway Hookers are used for more leisurely pursuits, and some sailing purists take great pride in restoring the old vessels, while others have new vessels built on the old design. Unique features of these craft are the sails, red in colour, which makes the vessels very pleasing to the eye when they are unfurled and filled with a stiff breeze. They were traditionally covered with butter, which acted as a preservative, and over a period of time turned red giving the fabrics their familiar colour, I can't say if the smell was all that pleasing. The modern vessels have their sails dyed red, or a reddish hue, in keeping with tradition.

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