February Launch
for Galway Hooker

By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
February / March 2003

A transatlantic voyage with a difference is what Steven Mulkerrins has in mind. Now living in Chicago, the 40-year-old carpenter from Connemara is applying finishing touches to a traditional Irish boat – a 47-foot Galway hooker – so that he can fulfill his dream of sailing from America to Ireland in the craft.

“It will certainly be the first hooker to sail west to east with its owner and builder,” he told the Irish Times. “And I also intend to insure that it is the first Galway hooker to make it to the Great Lakes.”

The transatlantic voyage was first made in such a craft by sailor and explorer Paddy Barry, but Mulkerrins, who previously lived in Boston, has built his boat from scratch. He imported two large consignments of wood from Co. Wicklow so that he and co-builder John Flaherty could stay faithful to the exact detail of the original design.

If building what he calls his “bád mór” (big boat) goes according to schedule, “she’ll be ready for the water in February,” he enthuses. The 2000-mile journey from Chicago to the Hudson River may provide the boat’s maiden voyage, by which stage Mulkerrins and Flaherty will know how good she really is.

“By the time we have returned from that, and taken in a few races with classic boats in between, it will be too late to head for Galway,” he predicts. “We’ll be doing that leg in 2004.” ♦

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