Ballinrobe’s Tidy Towns organisation recently launched a new flower display in front of the local Garda station.
A vintage wooden lake boat has been restored and christened “Queen of the Lakes” to tie in with the annual summer festival of the same name. The boat is located at the junction of the roads to Lough Carra and Lough Mask and on the route from town to Caher Pier and Cuslough Bay, where the annual World Cup Fly Fishing competition is held each August bank holiday.
The new boat replaces the one previously located in Ballinrobe’s central ‘Cornmarket’ - which had deteriorated beyond repair.
Peter Heaps, outgoing chairman of Ballinrobe Tidy Towns, stated: "After the old boat was removed from the Cornmarket last year, we sought a replacement for many months. They’re getting quite scarce now and several we examined were not suitable due to condition or the logistics of moving them.
"We thank local man, Tom Mulvey, who generously offered the one we’ve repurposed, which he’d hoped to one day return to the lake. We also thank local boat supplies shop owner, Phil Monaghan, who donated high-quality marine grade paint to the project and Morley’s Garden Centre, who sponsored the flowers and do so much work for all of the Tidy Towns organisations in the area.
"We were very pleased and thankful that Kelli Murphy, Ballinrobe's 2019 Queen of the Lakes, joined us for the launch of the boat and look forward to future queens being photographed beside our boat."
Heaps continued saying: "We are plugging away at improving things around Ballinrobe and were determined to do a thorough job with the boat's restoration to further demonstrate our ongoing 'Belief in Ballinrobe'. Hopefully the boat will be enjoyed by visitors and the local community for many years to come. We marvelled at the craftsmanship that went into its original larch construction. It was all built by hand and eye. We don’t know who built it, or how long ago, but it was done with a skill and artfulness that we rarely see in modern life.
“Today we consider small craft such as this to be ‘pleasure boats’, but once they were an important part of many a local family’s livelihood, either from the fish that were caught, or perhaps from money earned as a ‘ghillie’ ferrying tourist fishermen around the lakes. This boat is a tribute both to the makers of these boats, and the families that used them. We hope that people who see the boat will reflect on Ballinrobe's historic connection to the local lakes as well as appreciate the ever-changing flower displays in the years ahead.”