The cat is among the pigeons in Achill these days thanks to a truly exciting series of yawl races in Derreens, Achill over the weekend. Indeed everyone agrees that there’s no better location for yawl racing than Derreens where many scores of people watched the weekend races from the Achill and Curraun shores. The panoramic view for spectators was only equalled by the thrills experienced by those who watched the yawls battle it out to be first to the finishing line in the annual Cruinniu Badoiri Acla.
High standards were set on Friday night with a magnificent win by Paddy Eoin Patten and crew in An Naoimh Cait. Everyone remembers that only two years ago Paddy Eoin Patten lost his yawl when a shed beside his house in Saula went in on fire. Two years later the wily old fox of yawl racing is back again in a new boat built by himself and winning the first race of the weekend. The Seamus Patten Memorial Cup produced an exciting finale with Beagnach Neamh again robbed of silver by Paddy Eoin in the Naoimh Cait. It’s a tall order to stop Paddy Eoin from winning at any time and he has the pedigree to prove it. But surprise of surprises - that is exactly what happened on the following night in the Johnny Patten Memorial Cup when relative neophyte in a double ender Damian McGinty and crew in An Lon Dubh did the impossible. They toppled the mighty Paddy Eoin, to storm home to victory ahead of the Naoimh Cait. A mighty achievement for a double ender! Indeed some of us had an inkling of this great victory to come as An Lon Dubh finished a strong fourth the previous night ahead of Michael the Shore and crew in the renowned Yellow Rose.
Beagnach Neamh was beagnach bua as John Dara and crew from Curraun were again robbed of silver by the Naoimh Cait on Friday night. San Telmo and the Naoimh Breandain and An Broc brought up the rear on Friday. Newcomer Frank Sweeney and crew from Curraun in An Naoimh Breandain have been performing very well also in every race. They finished ahead of the Mayoman and an Brid Aine in Saturday’s race. But the Derreens chapter of Cruinniu 2008 was to be closed decisively on Sunday night by the Ole Fox Paddy Eoin. He exacted his revenge for his defeat the previous night by a stunning and decisive victory in the Patten’s Bar Cup 2008. He was chased by Kevin Cowley and crew in Mayoman in the initial stages, but the brave Kevin was overtaken by the Yellow Rose. Curraun boat Beagnach Neamh showed their mettle by a fine performance in overtaking Mayoman and Yellow Rose to finish second to Paddy Owen in Naoimh Cait. No mean achievement.
Cruinniu Badoiri Acla Dr Jerry Cowley paid tribute to all who took part in the weekend’s races. “We owe a real debt of thanks to everyone who made the weekend of fine traditional yawl racing possible. I would particularly like to thank Michael and Kathleen Patten of Patten’s Bar, Derreens who sponsored the races together with Reiteoir and Safety supremo Mr Tony Kennedy. I would also like to thank Mr Tommy Patten who set the course.” Dr Cowley has extended a Cead Mile Failte to all and sundry to come to Achill for a feast of yawl racing. “The Achill Yawl Racing Festival continues every weekend and extends to the end of August in Achill. Bigi Linn. Beidh failte roimh go leir” he concluded.