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"Florence" is christened and launched in Rosslare Harbour

At 73 years young, Ron decided to take on a boat building project which he completed in a bit under a year and a half. The project was to build a Keel Bottom Wooden “Clinker” boat using traditional methods of wooden planking and copper rivets.

Ron O'Rourke, Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford, IrelandRon O’Rourke, a native of Rosslare Harbour in County Wexford, Ireland is a craftsman in wood. His family stems back to the Rosslare Fort where his father was a fisherman and a member of the Lifeboat crew then station at the fort.

The Fort was located in the mouth of the Slaney Rive just down from WexfordTown and defended the narrow approach to WexfordHarbour. In 1926, during a massive storm, the fort was washed away and the inhabitants dispersed to Wexford and Rosslare.

Ron has the sea in his blood. In his early days he did his apprenticeship in carpentry with construction company, SISK in Dublin where he mastered his skills in carpentry and joinery. Working on a variety of projects, including pieces for the Galway Cathedral, he spent some time on Tusker Rock Lighthouse off the South East Coast at Rosslare working on the renovations of the lighthouse keepers accommodations. 


Ribs and copper rivits As for so many younger lads in Rosslare and Wexford, fishing was the stable form of livelihood. Herring, bass, flats, place, cod and shellfish were plentiful off Rosslare and up the coast to Blackwater, The harbour was renowned for its mussels, crab and eel and it was at the entrance to the river Slaney, between Rosslare Point and The Raven Point that the salmon entered the river to spawn in the higher regions as far as Wicklow mountains. 

Clinker plankingRon living in RosslareHarbour with his wife Mary. His sons Allan and Eamonn and daughter Siobhan live near by whilst his son Brian now lives in New Zealand.

At 73 years young, Ron decided to take on a boat building project which he completed in a bit under a year and a half. The project was to build a Keel Bottom Wooden “Clinker” boat using traditional methods of wooden planking and copper rivets. He designed this boat himself, built a scaled builders half model to work measurements from and tested his skill as a carpentry and joiner the limit. The boat, eighteen feet in length with a six foot eight and three-quarter beam has a height of three foot three inches in height is, Ron assured me, a fantastic sea boat ideal for the unpredictable waters off Rosslare and beyond.

The shaped Larch planks are built out from the African Oak wooden keel and riveted together ulilising copper rivets, some 3,800 of them, onto American White Oak ribs which hold the desired shape of the boat. This traditional riveting process utilizes a copper nail and roove, a Rubin Punch to apply the copper washer and a dolly and hammer to compressed all the copper pieces together.  Once compressed, they become a rivet.


 The Blessing of the boat Going for the Champaign. Mary O'Rourke and Beirnie Roche Ron's family: son Allan, Ron's wife Mary, Ron O'Rourke, Ron's sisters Angela and Bronagh, his son Eamonn and daughter Siobhan
Another Master boat builder, Larry Duggan from Wexford Town with Ron and his wife Mary. Friends who lent a helping hand: Paul Fortune with Ron O'Rourke, Declan Roche and Gerry Wickham Ron surrounded by friends

The foredeck  or foresheet is shaped strip planked and corked.  To finish off the boat and to bring out the colours of the wood, eight coats of varnish have been applied.


The boat was christened on Saturday 18th July 2015 “Florence” after Ron’s mother, with the traditional bottle of Champagne broken on the bow and blessed by the local parish priest, Fr Desmond.

Ron O'Rourke with his son Eamonn and friend Declan Roche at the launching of "Florence" in the "keep" at Rosslare Harbour.

This boat is a masterpiece in carpentry and a tribute to the skills that were utilized in the boatbuilding of traditional working craft, particularly in the Rosslare area.

About Author

John Ironside FRGS
Photographer, Travel Writer, Author

Having spent many years as a professional photographer, I have been privileged to be witness to so many wonderful happenings, meeting so many amazing people all over the world and enjoying their cultures, hospitality and experiences.

Through my travel business, I traveled extensively into Africa, South America, Caribbean and Europe bringing clients into these regions so they could experience the cultures and traditions of the communities, understand better the environment, the value of conservation and the caring of nature through adventure and environmental travel.

Through my photography and travel writing I convey these experiences to others so that they too can enjoy and understand the moments that travel brings with it.

Please feel free to pass on my blog to others that may gain from them.
Thank you.

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