Brothers Patrick and Tommy come from a long line of saltwater men and women, and are proud to continue this seafaring legacy today. Skipper Patrick is a traditional boatbuilder by trade, having trained under two different shipwrights, specialising in the iconic Galway hooker and the Curach Adhmaid, the indigenous craft of the region.
Tommy spent much of his childhood on the water, fishing with his father close to the shore and seeing firsthand the lives of families who – for generations – have relied on the grace and mercy of the sea. He has a passion for passing on old traditions and the rich social history of the area.
Our grandfather Tom O’ Gríofa was a bádóír who sailed with a Bád Mór named ‘An Aunt’. He was also involved in the transport of a whole manner of different cargo including turf, seaweed and manure, from Ross Island, off Carraroe. All of his sons followed in his footsteps, with some of the older sons working in hookers and eventually all worked in the fishing industry.
Our own father spent most of his working life fishing, from lobster potting and drift netting, to dredging oysters and scallops. A native of Inis Bearachain, he spent his youth doing what his father did. It was a very different time. His grandmother, our great-grandmother, was widowed young and with a family to keep, she together with her children would work together to process the seaweed to produce kelp, which involved the arduous trek rowing nine miles from the island to the territory of Carraig na Meachain and Sceirde, and then rowing back again.
Our father’s father was Pheitir O’ Confhola and he married a lady from Trábhain, Caitín Sheain Tom O’Ceallaigh, who was talented at making nets and repairing sails. They both had a huge gra for music and a much-admired repertoire of old Gaelic seanós songs. Their son, our uncle, Johnny Connolly is/was a keen melodeon player.
Our mother’s side of the family were very musical, all great singers, dancers and accordion players. Martín beag O’Griofa was my uncle and was a seanós dancer of great renown.
This is so much more than a cultural interest or talent, it keeps alive a rich and vital part of how our people communicated and shared life experiences over the many generations, we are proud to continue this tradition.