The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life received a very generous donation of 18 boat prints recently from artist and traditional boat expert Dónal Mac Polin. Dónal was the assistant editor and art editor of Traditional Boats of Ireland: History, Folklore and Construction, which was edited by Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh. Dónal is also the author of The Drontheim: Forgotten Sailing Boat of the North Irish Coast and of The Donegal Currachs. We are delighted any time Dónal visits us as he is always keen to share his knowledge of the construction history of many of the boats in the Irish Folklife collection.
Dónal’s detailed prints record in beautiful colour the building plans of traditional boats from several regions of Ireland. Among them are paintings of boat types found in our own collection including the Inishturk, Bunbeg and Dunfanaghy currachs and one of my own favourites, our Inis Óirr three-man currach which was acquired by the National Museum of Ireland in 1928 and is thought to be the oldest known surviving currach in the world.
Each print measures approximately 55cm wide x 40cm high in frame and is one of a limited edition of 50. The originals of Dónal’s boat watercolour series are held by Donegal County Archives.
Visit the Traditional Boats of Ireland Project website www.tradboats.ie for more examples of Dónal’s artwork.
My thanks to Dónal Mac Polin and Donegal County Archives.