A curach  is a small boat from the west coast of Ireland, related to the Welsh coracle. Traditionally, constructed by stretching animal hides over a wooden frame, today canvas or fibreglass is more likely to be used.

I saw some curachs lying on the Claddagh side of the old harbour during my recent stay in Galway


The plank-built rowing boat found on the west coast of Connacht is also called a currach or curach adhmaid (“wooden currach”), and is built in a style very similar to its canvas-covered relative. (Wikipedia). Here’s an example


A website about the Aran Islands tells us that

Curachs are still much used in the Aran Islands and all along the west coast. Curachs are made of wooden slats which are then covered in several layers of tar. Originally they would have been covered in hide. They were designed thus because wood was scarce along the coastal region. They are versatile boats, able to carry large heavy loads as they are so buoyant.  Traditionally they are manned by a crew of three, who carry it up a sheltered part of a beach to store it upside down to protect it, sitting it on trestles or large stones.  Quite often nowadays they are fitted with outboard motors but the basic design is the same as it has been for generations.  Curach racing is also popular along the west coast, especially in the Aran Islands.

J M Synge, in his book The Aran Islands, writes about his experience of travelling to and from and between the islands in a curach

Early this morning the man of the house came over for me with a four-oared curagh—that is, a curagh with four rowers and four oars on either side, as each man uses two—and we set off a little before noon.

It gave me a moment of exquisite satisfaction to find myself moving away from civilisation in this rude canvas canoe of a model that has served primitive races since men first went to sea.


The men seemed excited and uneasy, and I thought for a moment that we were likely to be swamped. In a little while, however I realised the capacity of the curagh to raise its head among the waves, and the motion became strangely exhilarating. Even, I thought, if we were dropped into the blue chasm of the waves, this death, with the fresh sea saltness in one’s teeth, would be better than most deaths one is likely to meet.

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