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An Mhaighdean Mhara First Boat Home in Cruinniú na mBád Turf Race

15th August 2022
True Light at the 2022 Cruinniú na mBád festival in Kinvara
True Light at the 2022 Cruinniú na mBád festival in Kinvara Credit: Michael Brogan

Thunderstorms forced postponement of racing at the Cruinniú na mBád in Kinvara, Co Galway on Sunday for safety reasons, and the fleet will reconvene on Thursday.

However, An Mhaighdean Mhara was first boat home in the turf race from Parkmore to Kinvara on Saturday when hundreds of people attended the 43rd annual event.

The bád mór was followed by An Tonaí in light winds and an incoming tide, while gleoiteogs competed in the outer bay.

The St Catherine won the gleoteoig class, followed by Naomh Ciarán and An Phantra.

The Naomh Stiofáin won the gleoiteog beaga class, with second place going to the McHugh, according to festival organiser Dr Michael Brogan.

Sun was shining with record temperatures when the climín or seaweed contest took place in the inner harbour.

Climin race 2022 at Cruinniu na mBad Kinvara with Karen Weekes and Orla Knight the first female competitors Photo: Michael BroganClimin race 2022 at Cruinniu na mBad Kinvara with Karen Weekes and Orla Knight the first female competitors Photo: Michael Brogan

Solo transatlantic rower Dr Karen Weekes and Orla Knight became first females to compete, and the race was won by PJ and Michael from An Cheathrú Rua.

There to pay tribute to the festival effort was Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice, who said he had taken a break from baling hay.

vRoscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind) on board An Tonaí at Parkmore pier, before it left for Cruinniú na mBád in Kinvara Photo: Michael BroganRoscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind) on board An Tonaí at Parkmore pier, before it left for Cruinniú na mBád in Kinvara Photo: Michael Brogan

“This is a long way out of my constituency, but these people have to be saluted for the work that has gone in to keeping this tradition alive,”Fitzmaurice said, standing on the deck of An Tonaí before it left with its turf cargo from Parkmore pier.

“It is keeping a torch lit, and it is great to hear that a lot of young people are involved in sailing these traditional vessels,” he said.

“This what Ireland is good at, all the villages around here are thronged with people today,” Fitzmaurice said.

“After a lot of beating and twisting and turning with Government, it has been agreed that when you own a bog, as people do in Connemara, you can cut it, you can give it or you can sell that turf yourself,” Fitzmaurice said.

Fine Gael Junior Housing Minister Peter Burke is due to sign the final regulations into law in the autumn, banning smoky fuel sales on retail premises and online, while preserving the entitlement of those with turbary rights to sell or give away their turf supplies.

“We have to remember that Bord Fáílte (former title for Fáilte Ireland) was the State body showing the person footing the bit of turf in the west of Ireland and the open fire – and sadly some people in Dublin 4 don’t understand our way of life, our heritage, our tradition, and, above all, our fuel supply,” Fitzmaurice said.

Declan O’Rourke, John Faulkner, Tony Trundel, Steve Johnston and Paul Mulligan were among musicians performing in Kinvara, and a hurling tournament was held in memory of festival founder Tony Moylan.

In 1979, Moylan persuaded three of the oldest wooden-built trading vessels with their distinctive “tumblehome” hulls to revive the sea journey from south Connemara to south Galway, where the limestone landscape meant communities had little access to turf.

Published in Galway Hookers
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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