Limerick boat building school sets sail for islands

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

A LIMERICK boat building school is planning to open a satellite centre in the Aran Islands, just three years after pioneering the increasingly popular school in Limerick.

A LIMERICK boat building school is planning to open a satellite centre in the Aran Islands, just three years after pioneering the increasingly popular school in Limerick.

Gary MacMahon, director of the ILEN school of wooden boat building, explained they are planning to embark upon a joint venture with the easterly Aran Island, where they will join islanders in a curach-making programme.

“We anticipate that this initiative will lead to the development of a satellite ILEN Centre where our model of work based learning can be extended,” said Mr MacMahon, of the Roxboro-based centre.

The school has also considered the scope for accredited traditional craft courses in west Cork and expects to commence operations there early next year. It currently engages with an average of 80 participants from the local community each week in its day and evening classes in Limerick.

The school offers courses in beginner boat builders, and advanced wood workers, which will conclude this month and be reviewed for the coming year.

Beginners have been taught the basic techniques of building wooden boats, while the advanced classes have been building two 15ft traditional flat-bottomed boats.

“These are elegant vessels and ideal for teaching. Our classes have demonstrated a very high degree of application and skill in the work they have done,” said chief instructor James Madigan. “We are delighted with the results of the programme.”

Dr Andrew Hodgers, academic director of the ILEN school, said they have two local women participants in their boat building classes, and look forward to more women joining these classes. Boat building classes will resume in February, when participants will join in the construction of six local Shannon estuary boats, called Gandelows.