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A boat peculiar to Ireland, especially its western coast. It is of great antiquity, contemporary with, and very similar to, the coracle, being originally constructed of animal skins attached to a wicker frame. Like the coracle it was often nearly circular in shape and was propelled by paddles. Possibly, the curraghs used by St Brendan, ‘who was born in Kerry, the home of the best curraghs, were capable of carrying twenty people and may have been constructed from as many as thirty hides’ (R. Hope, A New History of British Shipping (1990), 21). A modern currach is constructed of two skins of calico or canvas, tarred to make them watertight, stretched over an interlaced framework of elm laths, although other woods are used when elm is not easily available. Currachs are nowadays conventionally shaped for use with as many as eight oars, though they are normally rather smaller. A small mast and a square sail are usually carried for use when the wind is favourable. Currachs are particularly associated with the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, where they are used for the transport not only of people and goods, but also cattle.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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