The Viking Longboat Project
A replica of a Viking longboat, launched in Waterford city on the 25 Nov 2012, is modelled on one of the famous Viking ships found at Roskilde, in Denmark. An analysis of the wood used in its construction shows t hat one of these ships (Skuldelev 2) came from the Dublin area in Ireland with timbers felled in 1042-1043 AD. In about the year 1070 the inhabitants of Roskilde scuttled five ships in the narrow mouth of their fjord, in an attempt to barricade themselves against attacks by their fellow Vikings.
The project was aided by the Irish State agency with responsibility for training and skills which afforded participants opportunities for learning and to develop and fine tune the traditional skills required for building the longboat. The Viking longboat is now located in the Viking Triangle resting alongside the Reginald’s Tower in pride of place in the heart of Waterford city and its people.
Irish Times interview with members of the team working on the project – Tuesday, March 22, 2011
‘I joined the Project last year,” says Leo Carparelli, an Italian-Canadian married to a Waterford woman. “It’s been inspiring. Each day is different. Apart from learning how to build a boat, we get a history class every Friday given by a local historian. We have to do our own projects and mine is on the source of the Suir. I have to present a video on it and I’ve never made a video before. If I were still working as a plumber, I wouldn’t have done any of this.”
Carparelli, unemployed at the time, worked as a plumber in Waterford for over 18 years. “I’ve learned a lot on this course. Being a plumber means I’m used to handling tools, though not with the precision needed on this job. Still, when it comes to boats and plumbing, there’s one thing you don’t need and that’s a leak, so that’s the connection.”
The Viking Longboat Project Waterford came about because the Waterford Museum of Treasures wanted some replica boats to display and the only way to get them was to have them built locally. Funding was then applied for through Fás, Waterford Chamber of Commerce and the Museum of Treasures; the budget, apart from the weekly allowance of €188 that the participants received, was €60,000.
“We invited applications for the project,” says Richard Grant of Fás, “and then we looked for people with a good interest in the project and what skills they had.”
The 18 participants are all unemployed but include a cabinet maker, a carpenter, a plumber, an architect, an electrician, a welder, a coastguard and a joiner, all aged from their mid-20s to their mid-50s.
The co-ordinator was Michael Power and the instructor, shipwright Michael Kennedy, who comes with a formidable back story. Born in Dunmore East, he left for Australia to work as a commercial fisherman before moving to the US where he worked on a number of replica projects – which is why he knows just about everything there is to know about boats, from classic yachts to longboats. When he returned to Ireland in the 1990s, Kennedy built himself a hooker and if you want to know anything about woollen sails or treenails (pronounced trunnels), he’s your man.
The 33ft keel and planks of the longboat are of Irish oak, mostly sourced from a mill in Carlow, and the sailcloth is a canvas weave with polyester threaded through it. “A sailmaking apprenticeship is seven years,” says Kennedy, “and we don’t have that time so we plotted the shape of the sail ourselves on the computer and built in the camber.”
There was no plan to work from either but anyone who wants to build a boat like the Viking Longboat will now have plans to work from.
The team received lots of support from people in Scandinavia including the Waterford team visiting the Viking Museum in Roskilde, Denmark to view the great longboat, Sea Stallion – Glendalough , the original of which was built in Ireland 1,000 years ago.
For more details on the project check out ‘Viking Longboat Project Waterford’ facebook link….https://www.facebook.com/Waterford.Longboat.Project/?fref=tssearch