year. One was a boring repetitive one-
school. There were others however, which were much more pleasant and one of the more interesting
and natural was the fishery.
also a natural cycle with the boats; from half deckers, prongs and punts. For now I’d like to concentrate on the punts.
In those days they were made of timber,
generally larch planks over oak frames.
Following the long spring and summer of the salmon fishing and eel
fishing boats were heavy with absorbed water into the planks and needing some repair.
metal that protected the keel) could be loose or broken following a
season of beaching on gravel or stone.,
natural wear on timber from weather, damage to gunwales from hauling nets or ropes, faded paint work and repairs such as few gaps in planks where caulking would have fallen out or rotted to having to replace timbers or planks, knees, thwarts etc.
such as the equinox springs in late September.
These tended to be a community event, groups of men (and boys) gathering
to help to drag up the punts from high water and onto the shoreline. Once up, they would be turned over,
keel side up and the gunwales raised off the ground with rocks under them to
allow the wind blow under and dry them out.
|Turning over a punt at Moran’s poles. Photo: Hannah Doherty|
In the village the Green was the favourite spot to
overwinter. The Rookery quay would also
have a few boats. Moran’s poles was a
favourite of Paddy & Pat Moran, Paddy, Christy and Johnny Doherty and
Maurice Doherty too. Further along
towards Whelan’s Road Charlie Duffin kept his boat and in the next spot Jim
Duffin. Ned “Garragier” Power kept his
punt and prong down under the house on the strand.
have grown on the boats bottom during the heat of the summer would have died
back. At some stage these would be scrapped off and washed down.
Some preferred to do it soon after, others not until they were readying
the hull in the spring. There was always
someone down at the boats tinkering away at something. As children we loved to come across the men
working on the boats. There was always a
yarn, maybe a few bob for running an errand or an opportunity to learn some
|work in progress. Photo: Molly Doherty|
One Sunday morning I returned home from the poles and asked my
father if I could light his fag. He
was sitting at the fire and nearly choked on his cup of tea. Anyway I
persisted and he said “go on so”. So I
took the fag in my mouth struck the match on the box and cupped me hand around
the flame. Bending down I puffed hard
and came up with the fag lit to perfection.
Amazed, he asked me “Where did you learn that” – “Paddy Doherty just
showed me” I said, beaming with pride, “He said any man that fishes needs to
know how to light a fag when out in a gale”.
“Well, you’re on your way so” said my father as he snatched it out of my fingers
Before the boat was turned it would need to be coated with a
mixture of tar and pitch to seal the hull.
Any caulking that had come undone would be replaced prior to this. Manys the time the tar and pitch we used came
from Johnny Hearne’s on the quay, but people had many sources, and I remember it said that the best you could get was from the Harbour Board.
|launching from Moran’s poles 1990’s. Photo: Deena Bible|
This would be melted down in a pot or an old paint can over
an open fire and you had to be careful that the tar didn’t boil too hot or it
could catch fire. The brush used would
have to be a good one, or it would fall apart in the heat. The same pot and brush tended to be used from
year to year. Once the hull was tarred
it would be left to dry and then turned over to expose the inside.
strikes would be painted inside and out.
Each boat had her own traditional colours and a lot of care was
generally paid to ensure that the upper paint work looked well.
|Blessing of a punt at the Green Cheekpoint c1964|
Once all was in order, it was time to launch. This tended to be done a few weeks before the
new season started as boats needed time to swell in the water and close up
after the planks had dried out and most probably shrunk. Again it was a big event and most boats would
go out together to save on time.
|modern day launching
Sat 26th July 2014
Repairs these days take place with power tools, hence boats tend to come
out on a trailer and be towed home to a shed and a nearby power source. It’s also a fact that most boats these days
are fibreglass or are timber boats that have a fiberglass coating. Hence the traditions described above have either died out or are significantly altered and reduced, which when you think about it, is a big loss to a local tradition.
Thanks to Tomás Sullivan for suggesting the topic of this blog.