GALWAY HOOKER MONUMENT

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If you have ever visited Galway, you have probably seen the striking fountain in the middle of Eyre Square, also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. The fountain, which was built in 1984 by Eamon O’Doherty, is a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Galway City’s incorporation as a borough with Mayoral Status. 

The fountain centrepiece consists of a copper-coloured representation of the sails of the iconic Galway Hooker, a traditional sailing boat that is unique to Galway. The Galway Hooker is a type of fishing vessel that has been used for centuries along the west coast of Ireland, especially in Galway Bay. The name “hooker” comes from the Irish word “húicéir”, which means “prowler” or “sneaker”.

The Galway Hooker is characterized by its distinctive shape and colour. It has a single mast with a mainsail and two foresails, and a sharp bow that cuts through the waves. The hull is black, tarred to protect it from the salt water, and the sails are red-brown, dyed with a mixture of ochre and animal blood. The boat is designed to be fast, stable and seaworthy, able to cope with the rough conditions of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Galway Hooker was mainly used for transporting turf, a type of fuel made from dried peat, from the boglands of Connemara to the islands and mainland towns of Galway Bay. Turf was essential for heating and cooking, especially in winter, and the hookers could carry up to 50 tons of it at a time. The boatmen also engaged in fishing, smuggling and trading along the coast. The Galway Hooker was a symbol of the importance of the sea for trade and survival in Galway.

The Galway Hooker Monument is thus an homage to the city’s maritime heritage and culture. It celebrates a boat that is unique to Galway, and that has been part of its history for generations. The fountain’s elegant stylised metal sails contrast with the modern buildings that surround Eyre Square, creating a visual link between the past and the present. The fountain is also an attractive feature of the square, providing a refreshing sight for locals and visitors alike.

If you want to learn more about the Galway Hooker and see some examples of these beautiful boats, you can visit the Galway City Museum, where there is an exhibition dedicated to them. The Galway Hooker is not only a monument, but a living tradition that continues to enrich Galway’s identity.

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53.274706, -9.049406

Galway Hooker Monument

GALLERY

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