Galway Hooker Regatta

There are many boats of all shapes and sizes bobbing in scenic Galway Bay at this time of year as eager sailors unfurl their sails and chart a course for some summer fun. From our impressive fleet of fast ferries to fine fishing vessels and from cruisers to catamarans, none of these crafts are more iconic than the majestic Galway Hooker.

The Galway Hooker is a sturdy sailing ship, distinctive to Galway and the West Coast of Ireland. Known for its curved lines, dark black hull stained with pitch and blood red sails, the vessel was specifically developed to navigate the often treacherous waters around the Connemara Coast.

Galway Hooker

Once used for fishing and transport, renewed interest in this historic style of boat has led to a popular revival and the Galway Hooker Regattas are now a firm fixture in the summer calendar.

This year, two of the Aran Islands are part of the race route. Féile na mBád, or the Festival of Boats, takes place on Inis Meain from 27-28th July 2024, and again on the isle of Inis Mór, 24-25th August.

The Hooker regatta tradition is unique to Galway and attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. It is quite the sight to see so many tall ships with such striking sails congregating in the bay.

Technically, the name ‘Galway Hooker’ encompasses four classes of boat. The Bád Mór (literally, the big boat) measures up to 44 feet long while the Leathbád, or half-boat, runs to around 28 feet. The Gleoiteog and Púcan are smaller versions but entirely open to the elements.

While predominantly used for utilitarian purposes in shallow waters, the boats were prone to sinking in the past. Some 82 shipwrecked and sunken hookers appear on the Inventory of Wrecks of Galway Bay. But when Irish settlers to America needed a sturdy and reliable fishing vessel, they built the one they knew best. Hence, the Boston Hooker was born. It was also known as an Irish Cutter or the Paddy Boat!

The Galway Hooker holds a special place in the hearts of Galwegians and even appears on the county coat of arms. Sometimes our passengers are lucky enough to have the regatta sail past the ferry as we cruise in and out of Galway Bay.

To learn more about the Galway Hooker Regatta and the full schedule of summer 2024 events, check the calendar here: Féilte 2024 | Cumann Húicéirí na Gaillimhe - Galway Hookers Association

To see these magnificent ships at sea, attend one of the regatta themed events in Galway or the Aran Islands this summer. Alternatively, board an Aran Islands Ferry, sit back and you may see the majestic procession sail past. It is the highlight of the journey for many of our passengers!

Why not book your day trip to the Aran Islands on one of these Galway Hooker regatta days? It makes for a truly memorable journey!