History of the club
The name of the club is Naomhóga Chorcaí. Naomhóg is thought to stem from the Latin navis [ship], naomhóg means small ship. The naomhóg is recognised all over the world in the maritime community as being one of the most seaworthy boats for its size. The boat’s ability to navigate the North Atlantic, one of the roughest ocean areas in the world, is exceptional. It is an amazing response to the need to go to sea.
The origin of the naomhóg lies primarily in West Kerry with a strong connection to the Blasket Islanders. The Islanders had a deep understanding of nature, story-telling and language. They had a resilience and a strong sense of community which has informed the ethos of the club.
The name Naomhóga Chorcaí was first used in The Great River Race (UK) in 1992 by founder Pádraig Ó Duinnín and oarsmen Jim Conroy and Frank Conroy, where they won first place. Following this a committee of family, friends and like-minded people was formed to build the fleet and develop the rowing. Arising from this collective of people, Meitheal Mara was formed with the specific aim of establishing a Community Boatyard.
The original of the species! This was the first boat gifted in 1994 to Pádraig Ó Duinnín as the founder of Meitheal Mara, by Muiris Breathnach to build a fleet for the club. She was collected in Brandon Creek, Kerry and brought to the Port of Cork shed on the river Lee.
Photograph: from left to right; Pádraig Ó Duinnín, Paul Lombard and Séamus Ó Dómhnaill
Image by: Cian Ó Sé
About the club
With a diverse membership, the club is inclusive and welcoming, training rowers of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. Along with sister organisation, Meitheal Mara, Naomhóga Chorcaí promotes a deep appreciation of the culture of traditional boats in Ireland, co-organising Ocean to City - An Rás Mór, an annual river race attended by traditional boat enthusiasts and clubs from all over Europe.
A not-for-profit club, Naomhóga Chorcaí funds all of its own activities. Previous trips have included The Great River Race (UK); rowing trips along the south and west coasts of Ireland; river trips on the Blackwater, the Barrow, the Nore, the Shannon Estuary and the Lee; traditional regattas including Cruinniú na mBád in Kinvara; Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival; and cross-border trips to Enniskillen. Most recently, the club transported two naomhóga on a 2000 mile round trip to Galicia, where traditional Galician boat clubs were invited to share in the experience of currach rowing and reciprocated in their traditional craft.
The orginal poster advertising the launch of the club
Poster design: Pádraig Ó Duinnín
The naomhóg is a working boat and it is now largely used for leisure rowing. The club has 8 such boats. It also has a number of other currach types including Aran Island racers and Dunfanaghy currachs from Donegal.
The over 120 members of Naomhóga Chorcaí are well familiar with the boat handling techniques that were associated with the boats in their working capacity. Every Saturday an opportunity is provided to members of the public to experience the boats and our city on the river Lee. Year on year the demand for this is growing, in 2010 we facilitated over 200 people with access to the water.
The first boat built by Pádraig Ó Duinnín at his home, being launched at Blackrock Pier.
With thanks to Claire ni Mhuirthile for updating some of the historical information about the club in 2020.
Ocean to City
The annual Cork Harbour 17nm race, run by Meitheal Mara and hosted by Naomhoga Chorcai.