CROWDS turned out in their hundreds at Minehead harbour last Sunday (March 30) to see the maiden voyage of the newlybuilt Celtic Currach boat.

The Longboat, which has been named ‘Mynydd’, was the first of its kind to be built in the town for more than 1,000 years.

Made in just six days, it was blessed by the Rev Penny Dobbin and made four outings around the bay, crewed by teams of people who had participated in the project.

Two experts from Meitheal Mara, a boat building organisation from Cork, oversaw the project.

Build leader Padraig O Duinnin, of Meitheal Mara, said of the boat: “She is very steady and steers well.

“When the sail was up and the breeze was in the right direction Wales seemed very close.”

The boat was built using all locally-sourced materials and services by volunteers from the community, the YMCA Somerset Coast, JobCentre Plus and Prospects Services.

George Henly, a volunteer from the YMCA, said: “At the beginning of the week I thought it would be impossible to build a boat in only six days, but Padraig and Dave were great – they taught us new skills and we pulled together as a team.

“It was an awesome sense of achievement to build the Currach – I shall never forget it.

“We even fitted in a day’s water safety and sailing course on Lake Wimbleball so we felt prepared.

“Rowing the Currach across Minehead Bay was such a buzz – it’s a fast boat and we all felt proud to have been part of it.”

Minehead historians and authors John and Ann Gilman launched the ‘Saints from the Sea’ project to build a Currach, and Stephen Hooper, Minehead Development Trust vision manager, helped the dream come true.

He said: “This has really helped put Minehead on the map, and we’ve had media interest from all around the UK and Ireland.

“We’re looking forward to collaborating with author John Gilman, whose book Crossways inspired the Currach build.

“The next stage is to start planning and preparing to recreate the sea voyage of St Carantoc from South Wales to West Somerset.”