Repairing the Claddagh’s traditional gleoiteog boats is not only a way to protect a unique piece of Galway heritage, it is a way to provide training the employment.
This is the view of independent councillor Catherine Connolly, who has welcomed the allocation of €10,000 by the Galway City Council for the refurbishment of the gleoiteoga.
“This is a very positive step for the city,” said Cllr Connolly. “These traditional boats have served the people of Claddagh down through the centuries as a reliable sailing and fishing boat. The Claddagh is synonymous with traditional sailing/fishing boats the world over.”
However the number of gleoiteog remaining in the Claddagh has diminished over recent years. At recent Blessing of the Bay ceremonies, only a small number of gleoiteoga participated, the rest remaining on dry dock awaiting urgent repairs.
Cllr Connolly said local boat owners have repeatedly highlighted the danger of losing the traditional crafts from the Claddagh if no action is taken.
As a result City Hall commissioned a survey on the state of the boats. It confirmed that a substantial amount of money would be needed, but the council was not in a position to give the funds and there was a complicating factor that the boats were in private ownership.
Nonetheless a solution was found. A FÁS Community Employment Scheme in Shantalla is currently refurbishing one of the boats, giving employment and training to four people in the process, and the €10,000 allocated in the council budget will allow work to be undertaken on another two boats.
“The dream is to have at least three of the refurbished gleoiteoga sailing out of the Claddagh for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012 in addition to the gleoiteoga already in the Claddagh,” said Cllr Connolly.
She said she will also push for a similar allocation of funds to be given in each council budget over the next few years, so that in conjunction with the FAS CE scheme, a full fleet of gleoiteoga will be fit for sailing.