Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Currach Rowing in New York

Well, I have seen all sorts of interesting things out on the harbor but not one of these...at least not yet. I've been thinking about doing a series of posts linking to other interesting denizens of New York Harbor & seeing as I'm not feeling too hot tonight I thought this might be a good time to start!

Now this is a curious crossing of two sort of separate circles in my life. I've heard New York described as a commingling of "villages". It's very difficult to take this city as a whole, it is SO huge, SO full of everything, SO overwhelming - bigger than the human brain really seems to be wired to deal with (as described in this wonderful piece of writing called The Monkeysphere which I first found through Some Amusing Blog Pun, which also features some not too shabby writing) - seems like the way most people cope with the enormity of this place is...well, to not cope with it. You come here, and gradually you find your circles based on the things you like to do the most & you sort of stick with them. Everything else is out there, which gives the place a wonderful sense of possibilities - but I, at least, am almost completely engrossed in 2 circles: my waterfront friends, and my Irish music friends. The balance shifts seasonally - in the summer it's all about the river; in the winter me & my tin whistle start attending a nice low-key Irish music session with more frequency.

Now Lorcan Otway, proprietor of the blog shown above, is a gentleman who plays at the same session (or seisiun if you want to get Gaelic). I'm acquainted with him first & foremost as a darned good uillean piper (uillean pipe being a smaller version of the more familiar Piob Mor, "great pipe", which is the instrument you would picture if I said "bagpipe" - bet you're seeing one now! Now imagine that on a smaller scale, more suitable for indoors, and with a bellows driven by the piper's elbow rather than the piper's lungs) secondly as the only Quaker I actually know. Over the last few weeks a couple of people at the session have been mentioning that he's got another hobby I might find interesting - well, I do! And today, I finally remembered to pester one of 'em for the link!

When people started telling me that he was also a boatbuilder, my first assumption was that he was involved in Floating the Apple (remember them from my Paddle-Off-The-Turkey-Paddle post?) which is a very well-established local not-for-profit who build and row Whitehall dories. Before I started kayaking, I had been sniffing around that group quite a bit as a possible way to get out on the water - I think I like the independence of kayaking better but they're still pretty cool in my book. But my friend who was first telling me about it said "No, something like that, but that's not the right name, it's an Irish boat". "Maybe a curragh?" I asked. That was it. Now the funny part is that to me the name "curragh" brings to mind a round boat woven of wicker - like this -- also called a coracle (probably the Anglicized version of "curragh", like Dublin vs. Dubh Linn) on Salmon Boats, a rather nifty collection of UK boats -- but as you can see both on the Salmon Boats site and on the Curraghs in New York site, that name also applies to a much more seaworthy craft that makes a LOT more sense for the Hudson River.

I'm just sorry I missed the event he had posted for the 19th, that sounded pretty interesting.

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