Oct 25, 2018

Naomhog LaunchedMichele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape Breton. A group of boatbuilders, artists and musicians have constructed a rather unique boat called a naomhog. The boats are based on a traditional Irish skin covered boat which dates back a couple of thousand years. The group were inspired by a naomhog built in Ireland which was sailed and rowed from there to north-west Spain. Both Ireland and Galicia in NW Spain have a Celtic heritage and the voyage recreated a traditional Camino, or pilgrimage, to the city of Santiago de Compostela, said to be the burying place of Saint James. Countless thousands have walked the Camino overland, but rowing an open boat across the Bay of Biscay is something else indeed.

Naomhog LaunchFiddler Rosie MacKenzie, who is also an experienced sailor, has spent the past three years on the western side of Ireland, stronghold of the Irish Gaeltacht area. Here she came to know Brendan Begley and the other men who made that epic 2,500km journey from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela in a Naomhog. The journey was the subject of an award-winning documentary film entitled “The Camino Voyage” which premiered at the Dublin Film Festival in March of this year.  

You can see a trailer for the documentary here:

In The ShopInspired by the Irish voyage the Voices of the Naomhog project was developed in Baddeck with the goal of bringing together the traditional Gaelic culture of Ireland with that of Cape Breton and of the Mi’Kmaw. During the months of September and October, artists, musicians and boatbuilders from Nova Scotia, Ireland and Scotland came together in Baddeck, to build two of these distinctive traditional boats.

Things were done, as far as possible, in the traditional way with much of the wood harvested locally. Many hands had a part in the building of the boats which were launched in Baddeck on Oct 9th. Their first voyage was to row from Baddeck to Iona. By the way, Michelle Sevens Sailloft made those little standing lug sails.

As part of Celtic Colours, Voices of Naomhog concerts, an eclectic mix of Irish and Scots Gaelic music, were held in Iona and Baddeck. As well the group were featured at the closing concert for Celtic Colours in Sydney.

Thank you to Steven Goldthwaite for the photos.
All photos by Steven Goldthwaite

In The Shop 3In the Shop 2