Event overview; The Custom House Museum in New London is offering a free screening of the historic film Currach Voyage on July 29
OLD LYME — Residents of Old Lyme are used to seeing the elegant hulls of the Old Lyme Rowing Association or those of the Blood Street Sculls ply the waters of Lake Rogers.
The summer of 2021 has seen a different type of boat arrive on Lake Rogers. Boats known as currachs had fewer rowers and each rower wielded two oars.
Maureen Plumleigh of Old Lyme explains that after a two-year gap forced by COVID-19, 2022 is a year of return for currach rowing.
On Saturday July 30, these Irish workboat rowers – the currachs – will welcome the member teams of the North American Currach Association (NACA) to their annual regatta at Custom House Pier in New London.
The New London-based team is a member of NACA, which currently consists of eight additional teams: Albany, NY, Boston, Mass., Philadelphia Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., Annapolis, Md., Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Leetsdale . , Pa.
The regatta typically begins at noon, and throughout the afternoon eight to ten races engage various configurations of rowers in the four-seater boat.
For example, a race may require four men, or four women, or one man and one woman, or three men, or three women, or two men, or two women, or one man, or one woman.
A typical run length is 1-2 miles.
Events end around 4:30 p.m.
Spectators can see the event for free of New London’s Waterfront Park.
To support this traditional Irish cultural sport, the John P. Holland Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will host an Irish Cultural Stand on the pier during the races. The public is invited and there is no charge.
In previous years, New London Currach Rowers have hosted NACA teams for their annual regatta and have also participated in the New London Celts and Currachs event.
Currently, the New London club is managed by Old Lyme’s Plumleigh. Training sessions are held at least once a week, including every Thursday evening, and monthly meetings are held throughout the year. Contact Plumleigh for more details on learning to row via this link.
Plumleigh says: “Irish rowing is open to all. And you don’t have to be Irish. Interested people can just try it out and then decide if it’s right for them. It is an activity which, when seen, looks easy, but “Rowing Irish”, differs greatly from traditional shell rowing. We welcome those who love a new challenge!
The modified four-person Kerry-style Namhog (canoe) is the standard boat design for racing. In January 2006, Monty O’Leary from the Maharees region of the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland was invited to Connecticut to build three currachs.
The design is the same as that of many thousands of years ago, when boats were used for trade and the maintenance of towns along the West and North Atlantic coast of Ireland. Cowhide covered the grid with a wooden frame, which gave way to canvas in modern times, but otherwise the design remains unchanged.
This design creates a lightweight boat that rolls like a ping pong ball on the surface of the ocean, which was useful for rowing in large Atlantic swells.
In addition …
As an introduction to the Currach Rowing Regatta, the National Geographic Society video of “The Brendan Voyage” will be presented on Friday July 29 at 3 p.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 150 Bank Street, New London.
This documentary follows the modern expedition that replicated the path of Saint Brendan the Traveller, who in the 6th century AD with his band of monks sailed the North Atlantic Ocean in a currach similar to those used today. today.
The Museum has waived its usual admission donation, so there is no charge to view the film.