Gold Ribbon Banner
Friday, January 24, 2020
Morning Star

On the wild West Coast of Ireland the sailing cargo craft were known as the Galway Hookers.

At Galway the fishing hookers were based in The Claddagh, the mouth of the River Corrib, but most of the trade was from Galway Docks to County Clare and County Galway. The hookers, and their smaller versions, were open gaff cutters with small cuddies forward. They had a pronounced tumble home (curved sides) and a deep fore foot. The same characteristics as the seventeenth century trading sloops, but Galway hookers are much faster.

The real home of the hookers was, and still is, to the west of Galway in Connemara. The hookers last trade was to the three Aran Islands with turf for fires. In Connemara they loaded the turf from the little stone piers and harbours and sailed out about nine miles in the open Atlantic, The loaded hookers could get out to Aran and back in one day. In very good summer conditions they could get in two trips from Casla Bay out to Inis Mór, the largest island. They also took cattle to graze and passengers. In the old days turf was often bartered on Aran for salted fi sh, which was then sold in Galway. On the mainland the hookers sometimes carried passengers to Galway to avoid the toll on the Connemara roads.

Taking a loaded hooker out to Aran required great skill and they had small sail areas for safety. The open hull could be dangerous and in 1989 the hooker Connacht, sailed as a yacht, sank off the Co Down coast in a gale with the loss her crew. In 2007 the 40ft Morning Star was racing at Kinvara, and filled when a crew failed to ‘let go’ of a headsail in a squall. She went over, then went bolt upright and ‘sank like a stone.’ All eleven people aboard were saved and the hooker was re-floated.

In 1970, only three hookers were left sailing with turf out to Aran. Martin O’Brien sailed with his father Mike O’Brien from Sruthan with the 37ft An Tonai. Martin remembers that they cooked over an open fire on a stone slab in the cuddy and let the smoke escape through the hatch. In 1971, Mike died and his sons started sailing with passengers out to Aran in the summer. Paddy O’Brien started the Rossaveal-Aran Island Ferries that now have modern ferries taking tourists out to the islands in two hours. Martin O’Brien still races An Tonai and this winter she is in a shed at Sruthan.

In 1973, Johnny Jimmy McDongah took the last commercial cargo of turf to Aran in An Mhaighdean Mhara (The Mermaid). The summer races for hookers then started and remain very popular, but now-a-days the hookers have a far larger sail area than they used for turf. One of the fastest smaller hookers, is the 29ft gleoiteog Blath na h-Oige (Flower of Youth) built in 1885 by Casey on Mweenish Island. She used to load about 5 tons of turf amidships and when racing has sailed at 12 knots. For the past fi fty years, she has been owned by Padraig Folan and crewed by Oscar and his two other sons. The Folans of Carna also have the 40ft Truelight, built in 1900, which would have carried about 12-14 tons, and is in need of a total rebuild. In the summer Blath na h-Oige runs passenger day trips and a smaller hooker does evening trips from Roundstone harbour.

The hookers built in the Revival Era, such as the 34ft Star of the West built at Dublin in about 1996, kept to the traditional Galway Bay hull appearance and are always painted black. The winner of last summer’s hookers race league was the Colleen of Sruthan. One of the popular races is with turf from Casla Bay out to Inis Mór. The idea is to sell the turf at Kilronan for charity and have a celebration. In light winds, O’Brien’s ferries sometimes tow the hookers until the wind comes up to make sure they are there on time. This September, there was too much wind to race, but the crews all went over to the pub all the same.

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - January 2017 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!


Most Popular

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • RNLI to Cut 135 Jobs +

  • Twenty Years of Cruise Ships +

    Twenty Years of Cruise Ships ON AUG 30, the Port of Tyne celebrated 20 years of cruise ship travel. Read More
  • Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel +

    Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel ON THE afternoon of Aug 30, a fishing vessel reported to the Coastguard that she had lost power near Peterhead, Read More
  • RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea From us and Fly to Their Base From Quayside +

    RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea THE Atlantic Container Line (ACL) won a contract from Boeing Defence UK to transport seven Chinook helicopters across the Atlantic Read More
  • Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory +

    Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory THE NEW Invergordon Shannon class lifeboat which enters service next spring will feature the names of thousands of people in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane +

    Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane The Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) officially resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel following Hurricane Dorian. Read More
  • Boost for Area's Exports and Jobs Forecast +

    Port of Morrow in Oregon THE EXTENSION of the barge service at the port of Morrow, in Oregon, is one of only three projects on Read More
  • USCG Cutter and Two Life Boats Ensure Damaged Vessel Reached Post +

    USCG Life Boat In a four-day operation off the coast of Oregon, three separate vessels of the US Coast Guard towed a 50ft Read More
  • Operation to Salvage Three Tugs +

    Tug Salvage THE US Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the sinking of three vessels in the Illinois River near Hardin, Read More
  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  • Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over +

    Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over THE JAPANESE shipbuilder Japan Marine United has delivered what it described as “a next-generation energy-saving bulk carrier” to Nissen Kaiun, Read More
  • Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations +

    Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations THE Japanese shipping line, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), have taken delivery of the coal carrier Corona Citrus, 88,000dwt, built Read More
  • Network Demands Recovery of the Second VDR +

    Stellar Daisy A new search has been demanded to recover the second Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) from the wreck of the South Read More
  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

    MSC Gulsun THE SWISS-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has taken delivery of one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Gulsun, Read More
  • The Last New Magnolia Ship in Series +

    The Last New Magnolia Ship THE Singapore-based container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has taken delivery of the 14,000 teu capacity ONE Cygnus, 138,611dwt, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships +

    US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships American News The expansion of the US Navy’s amphibious capability continues with the announcement that General Dynamics NASSCO has received Read More
  • RFA Tideforce is Welcomed into Service +

    RFA Tideforce BRITISH News THE FOURTH and last of the new Tide class tankers, RFA Tideforce, was offi cially accepted into service Read More
  • USS Cincinnati to be Delivered to US Navy +

    USS Cincinnati US News USS CINCINNATI is the latest member of the expanding littoral combat ship fl eet to be delivered to Read More
  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • DFDS and Moby +

  • From Port Glasgow Nationalisation to Philip & Son, Dartmouth +

    Red Eagle So, not many months ago, nationalisation was unfashionable and unlikely ever to return, especially within the EU where that institution’s Read More
  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

    Glen Sannox Those in management positions must dread the retirement of those characters who retire from their life’s work with a wealth Read More
  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race +

    Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race In July, the brigantine Tres Hombres called at Brixham on passage from the Caribbean to Amsterdam with 35 tonnes of Read More
  • From Gloucester Tall Ships to Kenyan Sailing Dhows +

    Royalist Gloucester Dock is linked to the River Severn at Sharpness by a 16 mile canal. Read More
  • The Zea Servant +

    Zea Servant The Hong Kong registered Zea Servant arrived late June from Hull. She was in Campbeltown to load wind turbines for Read More
  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Flying Focus Calendar 2020 +

    Flying Focus Calendar 2020 FOR MORE THAN 30 years, Flying Focus, based in the Netherlands, has specialised in maritime aerial photography.. Read More
  • Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms +

    Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms It was good news to hear in late September that, according to the ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, the detained tanker Read More
  • Gulf Tensions Result in Cruise Cancellations +

    Oceana IN THE ‘MESSAGE FROM THE BRIDGE’ I referred to the tensions with Iran in the Gulf, following the seizure in Read More
  • Waverley Appeal Reaches Half Million Milestone +

    Waverley Appeal THE WAVERLEY – the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world – had to be withdrawn from service in May this year Read More
  • Welcome to 'Spirit Of Discovery' - Farewell to 'Oriana' +

    Spirit of Discovery WITHIN the last two months the British cruise industry has welcomed the arrival of Saga Cruises, 58,250gt, Spirit of Discovery, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Silversea Cruises has Partnered with French Luxury Glassmaker Lalique +

    Silver Shadow SILVERSEA CRUISES has partnered with French luxury glassmaker Lalique to enhance the dining experience onboard Silver Shadow and Silver Moon. Read More
  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places


An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Seventy-Five Years On

Seventy-Five Years On

In 1944, Tom Bradbury was serving as a 22-year-old Royal Navy lieutenant in the DIDO class cruiser HMS Scylla. Having Read More
The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

During the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina over control of the archipelago known to the British as Read More
  • 1
  • 2