The Celtic Society of Louisiana threw a mighty party for the members of the Baton Rouge Currach Building Project. It began New Year’s Day and ended St. Patrick’s Day night.
Project members included Pat, a master boat builder from Ireland (yellow shirt); Mike, his assistant, who was also from Ireland (white shirt); Dana, project videographer and photographer; Michael, Pat and Mike’s apprentice and project scribe (brown checkered shirt) and all the members of the Celtic Society of Louisiana, who gave stellar meaning to the phrase “Southern Hospitality”.
Whirlwinds of Celtic Society activities surrounded the builders 24/7 such as: Mardis Gras preparations and events; daily culinary extravaganzas showcasing the finest in Louisiana cuisine; weekly bag pipe lessons; athletic demonstrations; charity events; band practice; Gaelic language classes; poker games and Irish Wolf Hound training sessions.
The ‘boys’, as Pat and Mike were affectionately called by Celtic Society members, built five, 23′ long, three seat racing currachs (pronounced ‘cur rocks’) and four, 25′ long, four seat racing naomhogs (pronounced ‘knee volgs’), following strict North American Currach Association (NACA) guidelines. The boats were to be used in NACA races by their new owners upon completion.
A seemingly endless parade of visitors offered heartfelt support and encouragement to the team of builders, as they handily transformed tons of raw materials into nine elegant and graceful Irish racing canoes. They worked from seven in the morning until ten or eleven each night, for seventy five consecutive days. In addition to building the boats, they also made 71 oars. Each craft carries an extra oar, in case one breaks during a race.
By the end of the project the team was exhausted. Michael bought Dana a five dollar raffle ticket at the St. Patrick’s Day farewell party for Pat and Mike. She won the grand prize: a four day-three night vacation for two at a five star resort on Perdido Key, Florida. The next morning, amid tears of thanks and gratitude for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the team disbanded. Pat and Mike flew home to Ireland. Dana and Michael drove to Florida and checked into the seaside resort for a well deserved rest.