Galway Hooker

A traditional sailing vessel of Galway Bay, the hooker (húicéir in Irish) has a single mast with a mainsail and two foresails. It is customarily an all black vessel (from its covering of pitch) with distinctive rust-red sails.

This sturdy work boat was developed to survive the often rough Atlantic seas and to ply the shallow bays of South Connemara. The hookers would haul turf fuel across Galway Bay to the Aran Islands or Kivarra in Co. Clare, and return with limestone to counter the acidic soil of Connemara and Mayo.

The hooker’s origins are unclear, but at least pre-date the1800s. It has inspired the design of the American boat known as the Boston Hooker, Irish Cutter, or Paddy Boat.

Galway Hookers fall into 4 classes:

Bád Mór (Big Boat) – Length: 10.5-13.5m (35-44ft). Decked forward of mast.
Leath Bhád (Half Boat) – Length: 10m (28ft). Decked forward of mast.
Gleoiteog – Length: 7-9m (24-28ft). No Decking. Same sails as larger boats.
Púcán – Length: 7-9m (24 to 28ft). No decking. Lug mainsail and foresail.

For more on the preservation of the Galway Hooker tradition, visit
Galway Hooker Association
or find a copy of the 1983 book The Galway Hookers by the late Richard J. Scott, founder of the Galway Hooker Association.