The Heritage of Timber Boat Building in Castlecove and Caherdaniel


There has been a rich tradition of building timber boats in the townlands of Skehanagh, Lios, Brackahargh north, Brackahargh south / Reen na Ratha / Lambs Head, Behaghane and Caherdaniel, for at least 170 years.

1939 Derrynane Seine Boat Racing Crew
Cox Tadgh Fenton(Reen), Pats White (Bracaragh), John Shea (Bracaragh), David Leary (Goulanes), Murt Galvin (Reen), Thomas Fenton (Reen), Tom Hussey (Bracaragh),
Bosy O’Sullivan (Coad), Mike Fenton (Coad), Dan Fenton Coad), Paty Fenton (Coad),
Tadghy Leary (Goulanes),and Jerome Galvin (Reen).

During the last three months, I have recorded conversations with some of the boat – builders still alive in the area, and with descendants and friends of the boat building families who lived and worked within six mile radius of Castlecove and Caherdaniel. These conversations record the memories stories and experiences of brilliant and unique crafts people.

These familis are the Gleesons of Skehanagh the Galavins of Bracdkaharagh the Galvins of Liss the Galvins of Reen the Fentons of Bracdkaharagh South / Reen the Fentons of Caherdaniel the Fitzgeralds of Behaghane the O’Sullivans of Bracdkaharagh the Whites of Reen Cross and the Donnellys of Reen Na Ratha.

The original timber boats were “seine boats”and “followers “dating back 200 years or more, built for fishing the waters around Dunker-ron and Iveragh Peninsula.
Sand boats were built to transport sand from White Strand and Reen strand to farmers on both sides of Kenmare Bay. From the early 1900s timber leisure boats were built.
The design skills stemmed from the conceptual capabilities of individual members of the families,stored only in their minds and passed on orally from generation to generation. None of the designs were actually recorded on paper.
Timber boat building was and is a craft. Timbers were used were elm and oak for framing, elm for the ribs,white deal for planking, and white deal for oars. Trees were cut with cross saws, and whip saws cut the tress into slabs. All the tools were hand tools, including saws, chisels and planes. Odds of different sizes were used for shaping and forming the timber Local sawmills such as Galvin’s.