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The Hunt Museum

Hegarty's Boatyard - Building Conor O'Brien's Saoirse - Photographs by Kevin O'Farrell

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Photographing the Saoirse at Hegarty’s Boatyard, West Cork, Ireland.

Living near Hegarty’s Boatyard means I can go there regularly to enjoy spending time following my two major passions in life; photography and wooden boats. This yard has always been a refuge for those interested in wooden boats, so it’s a great place to chat to like-minded friends.

Through many such casual conversations with Liam Hegarty over the years, I learned that Saoirse had long been top of his boatbuilding wish-list. So when Hegarty’s ten-year restoration of the Ilen came to an end in 2017, this freed up space for Liam’s lifelong dream to finally become reality. Laying Saoirse’s keel would mark the start of a new project for Hegarty’s Boatyard and for myself, as I began the long process of documenting the ‘rebirth’ of this iconic boat.

In my Documentary Photography, images are not meant to be viewed individually, but as a series, with each one building upon another to form a unique narrative. Photography is the only form of communication that captures such ephemeral moments, with each photographer recording the essence of their own personal experience at that time. The diversity and truth of this individual approach is, for me, what makes photography so interesting.

I have chosen to work in black and white as the simplicity of monochrome helps to focus attention on the main subject. Without the distraction of colour, the viewer can clearly see the content, structure and composition of the photographs. And, because black and white images are a step removed from how we usually see the world, their use is an interesting and important aspect of photography’s rich heritage – a practice I firmly believe should be respected and continued.

Watching these boatbuilders at work today offers an insight into previous generations of such craftsmen, as their tools and skills remain unchanged. Unfortunately, however, these traditions are in danger of being lost now as very few young people take up careers in wooden boatbuilding. This would represent a tragedy for our island nation, so I feel honoured to witness and record this extraordinary craftsmanship for future generations. This book is my tribute to the wonderful living maritime heritage that is still practiced daily in Hegarty’s Boatyard.

Kevin O’Farrell,

Documentary Photographer.


Hardback, matt lamination cover, 270 x 220mm

88 Duotone images, 128 pages printed on premium 170gsm Silk art paper

Introductory Essay by renowned Maritime Historian Cormac Levis.

Signed Copy