Pat Folan, boatbuilder
Pat Mhichael Ó Cualáin is a master boatbuilder. His boatyard is in Carraroe, a stone's throw away An Sruthán pier. Here he works with his brother-in-law Micheál Staif Mc Donnacha. Though they are opponents on race days, they share their skills in building winning Galway Hookers, like Naomh Cailín, An Truelight, Naomh Ina and Martin Oliver, which is on display at Galway Museum.
Pat was born in his grandparents' house at An Sruthan, but his first sea crossing happened when he was only three days old when he reached Inis Mhic Cionaith, an island where his family lived till the early Seventies. There he spent the first twelve years of his life.
He remembers with a bit of nostalgia the hard but nice life on the island: rowing a mile to reach the school and back again in the afternoon, picking periwinkles and harvesting seaweed to pay for shoes and clothes, playing with little model boats he made with feathers and a board...
The island is now deserted, but the cottage where he lived, Tigh Mhicil Pheadairín, built by his father and his uncle, is still his cosy retreat when he has some spare time.
The boat building skills of Pat and Micheál spread far beyond the Connemara borders: they have also built many of the boats used in Vikings TV series.
The real enjoyment of Pat, though, is working on Galway Hookers. He prefers boat building to sail, even though he has been the winning skipper of Naomh Cailin and Erin's Hope in many regattas.
He is the owner of Erin's Hope, an elegant Gleoiteog Beag, but is now actively working in building his own Bád Mór (the largest class of Galway Hookers).
Building a new boat or fixing an existing one is an art that requires expertise, patience and time: It'll be ready when it's ready, however long it takes! is Pat's approach to every commission he takes on. No matter what, the boats built by Pat and Micheál are safe, elegant and agile, the quintessence of a Galway Hooker at its very best.