This is a transcript
of a piece I recorded for the RTE Radio programme Seascapes. The
St Patrick was destroyed in a storm in May 2002.
"It is over
two weeks ago now since the Galway Hooker St Patrick, was destroyed in
a storm off the coast of West Cork. My late father, Micéal Riddell
a native of the Claddagh in Galway city was one of the St Patrick's owners
during the 1950s and 1960s.
St Patrick was the most travelled work boat to come from Galway, under
her recent owner Paddy Barry she sailed to America, the Faroe Islands,
In 1909 Paddy & Joe Casey laid the keel of the St Patrick. The Caseys
were from a well known boat building family on Mweenish Island, a small
island just off the coast from Carna in Galway. The Casey family owned
a shop on Mweenish and built the hooker to transport supplies to and from
In 1912 St Patrick carried Padraig Pearse, Thomas McDonagh and Joseph
Plunkett out to the Aran Islands in an attempt to organise support for
the Irish Volunteers amongst the islanders..
After a couple of years the Caseys sold her to the Conroys from Rosmuc.
They too were shop owners and used the St Patrick to ferry goods from
Galway to Rosmuc. However, new and improved road links in Connemara meant
that trading by sea wasn't necessary anymore. The St Patrick was sold
again, this time to Carraroe where she was used to transport turf to Aran
for the next 10 years. With the arrival of bottled gas and electricity
she was no longer able to earn her keep and fell into disrepair.
My father Micéal Riddell, his brother Peter and their friend the
late Dermot Walsh bought her in 1958.
My father was 22 years of age when they bought her, and had literally
just finished his carpentry apprenticeship at McDonaghs in Galway. It
was a major undertaking for someone so young and only recently out of
his apprenticeship. At the time St Patrick was a working turf boat, and
was in a state of disrepair, she had been tied up at a pier for a number
of years. The boat was in need of major restoration.
Together, my Dad, Peter and Dermot carried out extensive work in restoring
her, putting in a cabin, decks and a petrol engine. They worked on her
every spare moment they had. They received a lot of goodwill from local
people in the Claddagh, in helping them get the boat seaworthy again.
They kept the name St Patrick, but used the Irish form of it.
Once they'd finished work on her they enjoyed many sailing trips all over
Galway Bay and made numerous trips up to the Aran Islands. This was a
turning period in the use of a Hooker and was the first time a boat was
used primarily for leisure, prior to this they had been solely as work
By the late 60s, my Dad had moved to England, and was unable to spend
as much time on the boat. In 1969 they sold her to Jim O'Meara in West
Cork, who later sold her to Paddy Barry, her most recent owner.
My father died suddenly in February 2002, and is buried on Bere Island
in West Cork, which is why it is particularly poignant for my family and
I to hear of the loss of the boat so soon after his death, and the fact
that it occurred off the West Cork coast. He was always proud of the part
he played in this history of this celebrated Galway Hooker."
by Helen Riddell