Saint Joseph East Coast Skiff – Irish Rowing
The main problem for every new club is when you want to start rowing you need a boat. East coast skiffs can cost upwards of €16,000 and take 2-4 months to build. The problem wasn’t really time but funds as we had little or no funds to finance a build. We are currently running fundraisers and accepting sponsorship from local businesses.
We were lucky enough to receive great support from other East Coast Rowing Clubs. The hunt was on to find a boat for us to train in. The answer came from a very unlikely source, more of a rumour really, that an old skiff had been abandoned years ago in a warehouse beside the Pidgeon House in Dublin Port. This
Traditional boat building in Ireland seems to have declined in rescent years. Being too time-consuming and labour-intensive for the current age. The building of skiffs & currachs had almost ended 30 years ago, yet now everything has changed again. With clubs such as East Wall Rowing Club, The Stella and the launch of our club Fingal Rowing Club are keeping these old skills alive.
We are lucky enough to have our own skilled wood workers Padraig Sherry & Carl Nangle who have implemented our own oar making programme.
This is our training boat named the Saint Joseph. She is an east coast Irish Skiff more than 90 years old made by …. in Bray, Co. Wicklow.
History of East Coast Skiff Racing
East Coast Skiff Racing has its origins in the occupation of Hobbling. Hobblers were freelance Harbour Pilots and competition was strong to win the contracts to pilot approaching ships into port and these contracts were won by prospective Pilots rowing and racing out to meet approaching ships to be the first to board the and win the lucrative contracts. Not only did the successful hobblers receive payment to pilot the ships into port but they were also awarded the contract for discharging/loading those ships whilst in port so it was well worth their while.
The Hobblers primarily worked between Lambay Island to the north of Dublin Bay and Wicklow Head, where they required considerable skill on behalf of their oarsmen. The long tradition of rowing is now carried on through the rowing clubs affiliated to East Coast Rowing Council. These clubs can be found around the old Dublin pilot stations of Ringsend and East Wall in Dublin Port, Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow, Arklow, and Courtown.
Clinker skiff-type boats were once one of the most numerous type of working boats found along the eastern seaboard of Ireland. They were recorded in 1874 by historian E.W. Holdsworth, where he noted that ‘The smaller boats employed for the line-fishery are of the same style as the Norway yawl, sharp at both ends.