A Boyne Currach is made from just three ingredients; hazel, willow and animal hide, and each of these components has a story to tell. It has been suggested that the skin currach has little negative impact on the environment because it is made of totally renewable materials.
Currach-making grew from the thinking and needs of a culture that learned to depend on hazel wood for a day-to-day living. It is not surprising that the Gaelic term for a wood (an coill) is very similar to that for hazel (an coll).
The Hazel tree has long been associated with Boyne Valley and old plantations still grow on hillsides and in the shelter of ash and oak woodland. The gathering of Hazels for Currach making is rarely uncomplicated. The rods needed are 35 rods of 25mm thick and an equal number of lighter rods for weaving. The heavier rods are arranged in an oval shape which as previously been marked out on the ground, standing upright at 6 inches apart. The lighter rods are then used to weave a gunnel, using a method known as Buinne Béal or Mouth Waling. The remainder of the rods are then woven into the craft before the uprights are bent over, weighed down and finally tied together to form and flat bottomed, upside down woven wicker frame. This can now be pulled from the ground.
Willow and Rawhide
The second ingredient is willow, otherwise known as osier, and this grows everywhere along the Boyne. These willow rods are twisted around each other, in order to break up the fibers. This is called súgán rope and is used to support the fishing net at the rear of the currach, as well as preventing the sides of the currach to splay outwards.
The third component is the animal hide. Rawhide is reputedly a temperamental material. In constant flux. Shrinking and stretching with the movement of the sun across the sky. This hide is soaked in a bath of lime and water and agitated daily for 10 days before scrapping the hair off it. It is them ready to be draped over the frame and tied in place.