Regina Maris – written by Donnie Graham, 2006
In 2008, whilst working as artist in residence at Timespan Arts and Heritage Centre, I began a Celtic Coracle building project under the guidance of green wood worker,Mike Ellis. Although circumstances conspired against us at the time, I am now back at Carbeth and have begun work again.
In May I built my first Coracle and have begun its big brother, the Curach, aided by my friend and boat builder John Miles. I have built this blog to document the process. My plans for the boats are ambitious – please see Curach Journey.
A Celtic Coracle is an ancient type of boat, which is still used in countries all over the world in a variety of forms. However, regardless of the country or use, the essential design ethos of a Coracle is the same; a coracle is a round, shallow basket like structure made from woven, pliant rods of soft wood. The structure is then covered in either animal skin or calico that is drenched in bitumen or tar to make it waterproof.
The Celtic Coracle and Curach are for me the perfect nomadic vehicles. Both vessels can travel easily across water, their flexible yet strong structures allowing them to react to rather oppose the elements of wind and water. They are light enough to be carried across land on the bearers backs and when turned up side down they become tents. If we were to go one step further and add wings to a Coracle or Curach, they would become gliders. The construction of both boats when viewed alongside modern techniques is comparatively simple, and if built in the traditional way, using natural, freely abundant material, they are accessible to everyone!