King of the Claddagh Michael Lynskey and his community took to the Galway waterside at the weekend to welcome home a workboat which plied the Atlantic during two world wars.
The 8m-long gleoiteog named Lovely Anne has has been restored for sail training by Bádoirí an Cladaig. Some 10 nationalities were involved in refurbishing the gleoiteog, built by the well-known boatwright Patrick Brannelly in 1882 when German leader Otto van Bismarck and British prime minister William Gladstone were in power.
Master shipwright Coilín Hernon, who led the restoration with Ciarán Oliver, said Brannelly built a fleet of fine Galway hookers, with just three, including this gleoiteog, An Tonaí ,and the Morning Star all surviving.
Brannelly died in an accident in his early 30s, when the Lovely Anne was being used to transport oysters between Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara and Rosmuc.
It passed through a number of owners in Connemara and on the Aran Islands, was restored by Colm Breathnach at Camus, and was then acquired by Jim Parkinson of Killybegs, Co Donegal, who used it to fish salmon.
Brannelly’s great- great- grandson, Ross Forde, who is involved with Bádoirí an Cladaig, traced the vessel to Killybegs and persuaded Parkinson to part with it. The refurbishment took five months, with Hernon and two of his sons cutting the sails and equipping the rig.
The Lovely Anne sailed over to Black Weir in Oranmore in the company of Mr Hernon’s gleoiteog, Nora Bheag, before returning to the Claddagh quay for its official welcome.
Mr Forde said that while in Oranmore, he was told the vessel had been named after an American woman named Anne, who was given a passage to a small island on it in rough conditions and described it as a “lovely boat”.
Bádoirí an Cladaig has endeavoured to extend its skills to non-sailing / fishing families through courses run with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board, and also held its inaugural festival in 2017.
Simon Wood, who lived in Uganda for many years, and Harald Schlindwein from Germany are among the volunteers recruited by Badóirí an Cladaig, along with Liz Power, from Galway, and Niamh Moloughney, a Claddagh resident.
“I had been away from Galway for a number of years, and when I returned I wanted to get involved in something a bit bigger than me,” said Ms Power.
“We did a fair bit of sanding and a fair bit of watching Coilín Hernon doing his expert work,” Ms Moloughney added.
Ciarán Oliver said this is “not only an incredibly moving story of bringing our Galway heritage back to life, but we are extremely delighted to also announce that the Lovely Anne is now our dedicated training vessel”.
“We will be offering skills training classes for adults and children throughout 2019,” he added.