Galway has a long established connection with the sea and it is easy to see references to our maritime history from the iron fountain at the top of Eyre Square (rusted to mirror the colour of Hooker sails) to the logo of Galway itself. We are a city that grew through port trading and of course fishing. The Claddagh area was originally a fishing village and there was once hundreds of vessels known as ‘Galway Hookers’. They are an iconic symbol of Galway and an integral part of Irish heritage.
With the arrival of electricity and the improvement in road transport the hookers were no longer able to earn their keep and fell into disrepair. Also the fishing industry went into decline due to increasing competition from larger trawlers fishing in Galway Bay. This gradually led to reduction in the city hooker fleet as the larger and more efficient trawlers began to take over. However in 1978 the Galway Hooker Association was formed to promote and preserve these wonderful craft and to oversee the annual regattas. Since then new boats have been commissioned and built in Connemara and then more recently the Claddagh Boatmen or in gaelic Bádórí anCladaig came together in the city of Galway. Now you will regularly see local Claddagh Boats taking part in Festivals and city regattas. There is nothing more magical than watching the rich maroon hues of a Galway Hooker sail up the Corrib with Spanish Arch in the background.
There are two companies offering excursions on Galway Hookers - Bow Waves based in the city and Wild Atlantic Adventures based in Roundstone. It is a fantastic experience that gives an unrivalled view of Galway Bay and the surrounding countryside and highly recommend you take the time.
There are four classes of Galway Hooker:
- Bád Mór (pronounced bawd more), 35-44 ft
- Leath Bhád (pronounced la fawd), 32 ft
- Gleoiteog (pronounced gloychug), 24-28 ft
- Púcán (pronounced pookawn)