A revival of traditional boat building skills on Achill Island will see one of the west coast of Ireland's most historic and colourful cargo boats sailing in Boston Harbour in the United States of America.
The Achill Yawl is a traditional wooden sailing boat with a solid hull and a single mast. For two hundred years the yawl was a popular workboat in Achill, carrying turf, smuggling poteen and bringing islanders to and from the mainland. However, the yawl fell out of favour in the 1980s.
Through an initiative by community leaders on Achill Island off County Mayo, a workshop to build new yawls has been established, thereby ensuring the future of the boat is secured. The first yawl from this enterprise has been purchased by Charlie Mullaney, a Boston based antique dealer.
The yawl is being built by local boat-builders Marty Eoin Patten and Black Marty McGinty along with trainee boat-builder Michael Sweeney. Marty McGinty says over the years a lot of yawls have been built in Achill, some may have gone as far as Westport and islands off Achill but,
We are going to create history because this one going to Boston in America and it's great to be involved in the building of the first one that's going there.
A new generation of seafarers is also being taught how to sail the yawl. Siobhán McGinty has been out sailing with her father a few times and thinks,
It’s fantastic, brilliant.
Dr Jerry Cowley of Cumann Bádóirí Acla (The Achill Yawl Festival) believes the boat going to Boston will be a showpiece for the area.
A showpiece of our very proud tradition, that we are very anxious to show the world because it is a wonderful tradition.
It is believed the revival of boat making skills will create new jobs on Achill, and the boat-builders are hoping to receive orders for many more of these remarkable vessels, thereby assuring the future of the yawl.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 3 October 2002. The reporter is Jim Fahy.