Given the number of boats on the lake in previous centuries, it is likely that there were many boat builders producing a variety of boats. Like Maurice Semple, I have found it frustrating to find so little information on the boat builders and their products. The following paragraphs summarise the information I have been able to accumulate and perhaps readers will assist in filling the many gaps.
John’s boat building business was initially located in Oughterard and according to Semple, the family had been boat. builders for over three centuries. After a spell abroad, John returned to Oughterard and when business in Oughterard was slack, Michael moved to Galway and set up business at 4 Woodquay in November 1882. He built many different types of boats including sailing boats and sold them to clubs all over Ireland. Michael was proud of the performance of his sailing boats at the annual Salthill regatta.
John Lynch a Ship’s carpenter worked for a consortium that set up a factory where the current NUIG Bailey Allen hall is now located. The consortium decided to build a twin-screw steamer for the Galway Liverpool route and named it ‘The Emerald’. This vessel was launched on 26th January 1871 and went down the Eglinton Canal to the sea. John Lynch also had a ship yard at the docks and in 1898 he built the last Corrib steamer, the St. Patrick. This was a substantial vessel of some 100 ft long capable of carrying up to 200 tons of cargo. It was intended to ply on the lake and the bay, this being facilitated by the Eglinton Canal.
The Kinneavys started building boats in 1861 on Inchagoill Island: they built row boats, sail boats and pucans. They had a large workshop there and during the recent restoration work there, the steam engine that powered the band saw was unearthed. The outline of the workshop is also visible. This continued down the generations and when Martin Kinneavy moved to the mainland in 1912 he continued to build boats at Camp Street in Oughterard. When Martin died, his son Patrick took over the business and Kinneaveys built boats at this location up until 1966. The 1996 Oughterard Newsletter announced that one of the last Kinneavy boats to be built by Paddy Kinneavy for a Tom Coyne in 1960 had been restored and relaunched. The first boat my father owned was a Kinneavy boat and it had the necessary equipment to add a sail.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Kinneavey at the Anglers Mass on Inchagoill in June 2016 and 2017 and he tells me his is the last of the Kinneavey boat building dynastey. He repairs boats and builds Corrib boats on demand.
On both occasions he was accompanied by his sister, Mary Lydon and Mary has send me photographs of the Kinneavey family together with an account of what they contain. I am pleased to reproduce the photographs and the account here.
Con Hickey established Hickey Boats in 1912 in Wood Quay. He had served his apprenticeship with John Walsh referred to above and subsequently with the famous Vickers boatyard at Barrow-in-Furness. Hickey boats subsequenly moved to Renmore where the factory was located on the site of the current DPL shop. Hickey Boats built a wide range of boats, angling boats, sailing boats fishing boats for lobster and drift-netting and subsequenty built the Venture range of pleasure craft. I remember visiting the plant. Regrettably, there is little information on the company on the internet.
Tommy Mallon was a verasatile and skilled boatbuilder who had his workship in Camp street in Oughterard. He came in contact with the famous Captain Wooley at an early age who persuaded him to learn the necessary mathematics to enable him design boats and following two year of study (1954-1958) with Captain Wooley at the Tech in Galway he successfully sat the City and Guilds examination. Like Con Hickey, Tommy built a wide range of boats including lake boats, lobster and driftnetting boats and sailing boats. He designed and built the Corribee 21 in wood and in 1964 Tommie was presented with the ‘Boat of the Show’ award by Princess Alexandria. Tommy build 20 Corribees in wood. Newbridge Boats purchased the rights of the Corribee and built a good number in fibreglass. Of all the boats Tommie built, my own favourite is the Endurance 35 planked with iroko teak. I visited his workshop frequently to follow the progress of the construction of one of these famous craft and I must have been a right nuisance with all the questions - how did he transfer the lines etc etc! Tommy died on 6th September 2010.
WE are very fortunate that Eira Parry recorded a detailed interview on behalf of Galway Heritage with the renowned boat builder Frank Kavanage while he was still in good health. Click here to read it. Frank started an apprenticeship with Con Hickey of Hickey Boats in 1947. He started is own boatbuilding firm in Woodquay in 1960 and worked there until is retirement in 2003 building a range of lakeboats for anglers from far and wide. Franks basic design was 18 ft long and 4 ft beam. However, there were subtle variations in design, a fine stern for those like my father interesting in rowing, wide sterns for those speed merchants with high powered outboards. As an apprentice Frank must have been well in with the boss because he married Con Hickey’s daughter.
Jackie Mons started his boat building career with Tommie Mallon in Camp street in Oughterard. He set up shop in Glann near Currarevagh House Hotel where he still builds and repairs Corrib lake boats.l
Jim Philbin built lake boats in his workship in Carrick, half way between Cornamona and Clonbur. He was renowned for building strong seaworthy boats.
A Builder of lake boats who resided in Inishmacatreer.
Although Ballinrobe is quite a distance from the Corrib, there are probably more Burke boats on the Corrib than from any other boat builder. Pat Burke started designing and building boats at his island home on Inishdurra on Lough Mask in 1879.
Our boats are built by long established boatbuilders J. Burke & Sons. From sons to grandsons, all have contrinuted to making the Burke Boats for over 130 years. His design evolved into the ‘Anglers Fancy’ and was built in timber up until about 30 years ago. At that time construction moved to a simulated clinker design in GRP and this has continued to the present day. The Anglers Fancy is available in three versions depending on the level of luxury required. ‘John Paddy Burke’ is a master craftsman and has inherited the skills of the previous Burke generations. Karl Burke, a 5th generation Burke is now involved in the business. See Burke Boats