Barrow Cot Project
Athy Community Men’s Shed will initially make one boat, based on an original Barrow Cot Boat which was used by Cassidy’s Distillery and Brewery in Monasterevin which operated in the late 18th century and early 19th century. The whiskey and beer was transported to Dublin on canal boats and the Barrow Cot Boat would have been used to keep the river and canal clear for the bigger boats
Barry Keatley of the North Barrow Branch of Waterways Ireland said the original boat in their possession, on which they will base the replicas, is over 100 years old.
“The brewery closed in the early 19th century and this boat would have been in use for many years before the closure so it’s at least 100 years old if not more. There were different types of cot boat, the River Slaney had the Slaney Cot Boat for example and there were also cot boats on the River Suir. The boats had either a flat bottom or a keel depending on if the water was tidal or non tidal. The ones in this area were flat bottomed and had no keel because the waters here aren’t tidal.”
The project will be co-ordinated by the Athy Enterprise Office. Once the initial boat is made the plan is to apply for funding so that a potential eight boats can be built which can become a tourist attraction on the River Barrow.
Patricia Berry of the Athy Enterprise Office outlined the long term aim of the project.
“We are looking to promote eco tourism on the Barrow and the idea is that we will use the cot boats as a way for visitors to Athy, as well as local people, to explore the natural beauty of the River Barrow. We are also looking to hold a Cot Race Regatta event in Athy on the Barrow and use the new original template boat on the day of the event.”
Helen Dowling, also from the Athy Enterprise Centre, went on to outline how the idea for the project originated. “The project originated as part of the Barrow Navigation study. Athy was highlighted as an activity hub. Through this the tradition of the Barrow and its boats was explored and local research lead to us finding a Barrow cot in need of repair in Monasterevin.
The men who have been tasked with building the boats are the Athy Community Mens Shed. In the past they have worked with the local St Vincent’s Hospital to set out a garden build a fence. They have also stepped in to assist a local crèche who needed sensory tables built, as well as painting work and shelving carried out. Some of their longer term projects have also included bicycle repairs and recycling and computer repairs. The group has approximately 30 members according to Athy Community Mens Shed chairman Pat Vaughan.
“For a boat like this they recommend you use either larch, red deal or red cedar. We decided to go with red cedar even though originally the boat would have been built using larch. Red dedar probably wouldn’t have been as readily available then as it is now. The numbers working on the boat will vary up and down over the course of the build. I reckon though that we will have about 15 to 20 working on the boat and we hope to have it ready in a couple of weeks.”