Building a Currach


A Boyne Currach is made of three ingredients; hazel, willow and animal hide, and each of these ingredients has a story to tell. It has been shown that the skin curry has little negative impact on the environment because it is made from completely renewable materials.

Hazel was grown from the thinking and needs of a culture that learned to rely on wood for day-to-day survival. It is not surprising that the Gaelic term for ‘woods’ (coill) is very similar to the term for ‘hazel’ (coll).


The hazel tree has long been associated with the Boyne Valley and old plantations still grow on the hillsides and in the shelter of ash and oak woodlands. Collecting hazel for Currah making is rare, uncomplicated. The rods required are 35 rods 25mm thick and the same number of lighter rods for weaving. The heavier rods are arranged in an oval shape already marked on the ground, standing 6 inches apart. The lighter rods are then used to weave gunnel, using a method known as Mouth Waling. The rest of the rods are then woven into the craft before the ends are bent up, weighed down and finally tied together to form a woven wicker frame and lie flat upside down. This can now be pulled from the ground.

Willow and Animal Hide

The second ingredient is willow, otherwise known as osier, and this grows everywhere on the Boyne side. These willow rods are twisted around each other, to break up the fibers. This is called a fishing line and is used to support the fishing net on the back of the basket, as well as keeping the sides of the basket steady and not letting them spread out.

The third component is the animal hide. The animal hide is said to be a mental matter, in constant flux. Shrinking and stretching with the movement of the sun across the sky. This hide is soaked in a lime and water bath and stirred every day for 10 days before the hair is plucked out. It is now ready to be stretched over the wicker frame and tied in place.

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