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Restoring the 'Dursey Clipper' Seine Boat in West Cork

9th June 2022
Dursey Clipper is a seine boat, sixty to seventy years old, which had lain unused for about eleven years on nearby Dursey Island
Dursey Clipper is a seine boat, sixty to seventy years old, which had lain unused for about eleven years on nearby Dursey Island

“There was a lot of work, hull planking, fitting the stem post, caulking, filling, fairing, sanding, priming and painting. We lost over two years on the project due to Covid and this old girl was in a worse condition than we initially realised. It was a big undertaking for us but we have got there.”

So say the members of Allihies Men’s Shed on the western tip of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, who will launch the ‘Dursey Clipper’ this weekend.

It is a seine boat, sixty to seventy years old, which had lain unused for about eleven years on nearby Dursey Island. It was given to them by the oldest resident of the island, Jimmy Harrington, who will be 81 years old next month.

Dursey is the island which made headlines earlier this year when Ireland’s only cable car service there had to be halted for maintenance works. This led to controversy as the island had two permanent residents and farms owned by mainland residents. After discussion, the cable car was replaced by a State-funded ferry.

Allihies Men’s Shed is a strong part of the Beara community. From its maritime tradition, former fishermen are among its members.

Putting the final touches to the Dursey Clipper Seine Boat in the Allihies mens shed in West CorkPutting the final touches to the Dursey Clipper Seine Boat in the Allihies mens shed on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork

“We were looking for a project and the boat was given to us. We have members who are former fishermen and were delighted to get it,” David Dudley of the Shed told me on my maritime programme/podcast, Maritime Ireland. “Seine boats were used extensively around West Cork for netting, potting and other traditional fishing activities.

The boats would have been up to 27 feet long. This one is shorter at 18 feet. Inshore fishing was strong when they were in use. Herring and mackerel were caught.”

Historical records describe “huge shoals of pilchards that came to the comparatively warm, sheltered waters of West Cork islands during the summer months. There were curing stations in villages to prepare the fish for sale. There was a lot of employment in a vibrant fishing industry and there could be two boats using a seine net, such were the catches.”

Painted in blue with a topside broad, black line. the restored boat is impressive and will be launched this Sunday at 2 pm at a community gathering on Garnish Pier.

It took a bit of discussion to decide on the name!

“We pondered and mulled over the name for the past month and couldn't agree. Then we whittled it down to a shortlist and put it to a vote. ‘Dursey Clipper’ won out,” David Dudley told me. “All are welcome at the launch.”

Listen to him on the Podcast here.

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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