Northern Ireland news

33ft currach nearing completion at Titanic Quarter

 A model of St Columbanus is seen in the foreground as volunteers take part in the construction of one of the largest currachs ever built (Niall Carson/PA)
Michael McHugh, PA

ONE of the largest currachs ever built in Belfast is nearing completion.

The 33ft traditional hand-made wood and canvas vessel will take 10 people to row and will ply the River Lagan from a mooring in the city centre. Builders hope tourists and locals will view the city from a relatively unexplored angle on water.

Volunteers have been working on the boat at premises in the Titanic Quarter and it will be finished next month.

Organiser Niamh Scullion said: "I find it something to be really proud of. It is a beautiful process. It is like a work of art.

"We know at the end of of it there will be something built that we can use to make a difference to people and make a difference to the River Lagan."

She said the project had been an intense experience.

Community groups, a men's shed and volunteers from across Belfast have contributed to the build.

The boat will take tourists from the city centre to Cutters Wharf in Stranmillis. It is due to be launched in September during a European week of watersports

The project received a £15,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Ms Scullion added: "It is for people to see Belfast from a brand new perspective.

"The Lagan is uncontested ground, no one has really claimed it, it is a safe place to bring people together."

Once they have got used to handling the boat on the river they plan to row her in the city harbour, on Belfast Lough and around the coastal waters, eventually joining other groups from Lough Erne and the Causeway Coast for longer sea voyages.

"We are inviting community groups to come and visit the boat in progress at T13 and write a name suggestion on their name board and see if they would like to join in."

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