Galway hooker

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The Galway hooker (Irish: bád mór or húicéir) is a traditional sailing boat used in Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland. The hooker was developed for the strong seas there. It is identified by the sail formation, which is extremely distinctive and quite beautiful. It consisted of a single mast with a main sail and two foresails. Traditionally, the boat is black (being coated in pitch) and the sails are a dark red-brown.

Recently there has been a major revival, and renewed interest in the Galway hooker, and the boats are still being painstakingly constructed. The festival of Cruinniú na mBád is held each year, when boats race across Galway Bay from Connemara to Kinvara on the Galway/Clare county boundary.

Classes of Galway Hooker

The hooker refers to four classes of boats. All are named in Irish. The Bád Mór (big boat) ranges in length from 10.5 to 13.5 metres (35 to 44 feet). The smaller Leath Bhád (half boat) is about 10 metres (28 feet) in length. Both Bád Mór and Leath Bhád were decked forward of the mast. These boats were used to carry turf to be used as fuel across Galway Bay from Connemara and County Mayo to the Aran Islands and the Burren. The boats often brought limestone on the return journeys, to neutralise the acid soils of Connemara and Mayo. The Gleoiteog ranges in length from 7 to 9 metres (24 to 28 feet) and has the same sails and rigging as the larger boats. They were used for fishing and carrying cargo. Another boat, the Púcán, is similar in size to the Gleoiteog but has a lug mainsail and a foresail. These smaller boats were entirely open.[1]

There was also a class fitted with a cockpit floor over the ballast used for fishing. When the Irish settlers at Boston USA needed fishing craft, they built the hooker that they knew from home. These boats became known as Boston Hookers, Irish Cutters in official reports, or Paddy Boats.[2]


The origins of the craft are not clear. They have been in use for at least two hundred years, although it has been suggested that the design of the boat may date back further, owing to the Eastern, Arabic appearance of the sails and the craft itself. Many have suggested this as another example of Coptic influence on the west coast of Ireland. The Connamara area had many boatbuilders and it is thought that they formed these boats especially to suit the area. The boats were able to sail in shallow waters and thus were ideal for the areas around South Conamara. It is most likely that the báid have their origin in the area as opposed to being inspired from outside. A major spark in the revival of interest was the publication in 1983 of "The Galway Hookers , Sailing work boats of Galway Bay" (Richard J. Scott, d 24/01/08), now in its fourth edition. For the first time detailed construction and sail plans were published. The late Richard (Dick) Scott was also a founder member of the Galway Hooker Association.

Galway Hooker Art

Galway Hooker have been the inspiration for a lot of artwork throughout their history, artists like James G Miles capture the movement and color of these magnificent vessels. James also records songs and creates Bronze Sculptures of Hooker and Currach boats.

See also


  1. Scott
  2. Chapelle


  • Scott, Richard J (1983) The Galway Hooker. Ward River Press. ISBN 0 907085 58 X
  • Chapelle, Howard I (1951) American Small Sailing Craft. W W Norton & Co. ISBN 0 393 03143 8

External links

de:Galway Hooker ga:Húicéirí na Gaillimhe