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Keywords:

  • Achill Island;
  • Ireland;
  • community identity;
  • maritime cultural landscape;
  • vernacular watercraft;
  • yawl

Achill yawls, originally introduced to Ireland as ships' boats aboard Norwegian merchantmen, developed into distinct working vessels along Achill Island's shores during the 19th century. These boats were subsequently modified for recreational racing in the mid-20th century. Despite changes to their design, they are often nostalgically viewed as traditional symbols of an Achill islander identity, though their popularity may have been prompted by late-19th-century British legislation. The authors take an ethnographic approach in interpreting Achill yawls over time, contextualizing their social functions through an exploration of primary historical and photographic archives, extant vessels, and interviews with Achill islanders.

© 2010 The Authors