About the Galway Hooker

The Galway Hooker, with its distinctive curved lines, supported a significant fishing industry in Galway Bay and around the Connemara coast in the 19th century and carried goods, livestock and fuel at a time when the sea was the main means of transport and communication for the coastal communities. Since the mid seventies, many of the old sailing craft which were on the verge of extinction have been lovingly restored and new ones have been built. During the summer months they can be seen at a series of regattas held around the coast but particularly in the west of Ireland where they originated.

The Galway Hooker refers to four classes of boats, all named in Irish:

  1. The Bád Mór
  2. The Leath Bhád
  3. The Gleoiteog
  4. The Púcán

Larch, oak and beech were used in the building of these sturdy craft. The timbers were usually tarred with a mixture of creosote and coal. The hull was decked from the stem to the mast beam and a small cabin or cuddy provided cooking and sleeping quarters. Cooking was on an open turf fire on a stone hearth. The ballast of local stones was carefully and expertly located amidships.

Richard J. Scott in his excellent book The Galway Hookers, gives a detailed description of the construction and rigging of these working sailboats used in Galway Bay, the Aran islands and the Connemara coast.

“The hull’s sharp clean entrance, deceptively under the apple-cheeked buoyant , forequarter, considerable tumble-home or belly of up to 12 inches each side, a beautiful run starting almost amidships, and sweeping up to the raked transom, all were distinctive features of the hooker. There was hardly a flat plank in her.”