Michael’s job ended abruptly within a week after returning to Pennsylvania. He telephoned Mike in Massachusetts. Mike gave him Johnny’s number after a short conversation about his quest to find a boat builder willing to teach him how to build a traditional Irish canoe.
Johnny said he was too old to build currachs anymore. However, Johnny knew an Irishman in New Orleans that was organizing a currach building project scheduled to begin in early January, or in about three months. He gave Michael Danny’s number and wished him luck.
Danny was a very busy person. He owned a pub in the French Quarter of New Orleans, had numerous side businesses and performed regularly as a musician in venues throughout the South and other parts of the world. He was bringing one of Ireland’s top master boat builder to New Orleans to build a fleet of authentic Irish racing canoes.
Michael left many messages on Danny’s answering machine. They played phone tag as time ticked away. Near the end of October Michael decided to take matters into his own hands. He drove to New Orleans and sat in Danny’s pub for two days until Danny walked up to him and said in an Irish brogue, “Hi. I’m Danny O’Flaherty. Please come with me to my office. We can talk there in private.”
By the end of their hour long conversation Danny telephoned Pat in Ireland. They spoke together in Gaelic. Danny asked Pat if Michael could be his assistant to help speed the project along. They anticipated the project would take approximately two months to build nine traditional Irish racing canoes. Pat agreed. He would need all the help he could get.
Danny asked Michael if he would kindly make a documentary movie of the project and write a currach building manual, in return for the privilege of learning the ancient craft. He explained that the tradition of currach building was in danger of being lost in Ireland. Modern boaters wanted faster vehicles, made in factories, out of fiberglass, epoxy and metal.
He gladly agreed to the conditions. Danny told him the project would begin January 3rd, in Baton Rouge, at the headquarters of the Celtic Society of Louisiana. He gave Michael contact numbers and said he’d call Steve, the Society’s president, and let him know to expect him. Michael was prepared to live in a tent for two months, if necessary.
Michael knew how to sketch, write and use basic carpentry tools. He also knew that Dana was a skilled photographer and wanted to be a videographer. He didn’t know if she would be able to join him on this adventure, but he hoped so. He called her that evening.