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New life for old piano which once entertained Galway’s elite on converted minesweeper!

A miniature piano with a story worthy of its own musical has found a new home – having started its life on a converted minesweeper that was turned into a luxury cruiser by the Guinness family to entertain their friends on Lough Corrib.

Specifically designed as a ship’s piano, its long-time owner, Galway native but Dublin-based Frank Curran, has donated this unique piece of musical nostalgia to the Galway Maritime Museum, the brainchild of a man with a lifelong passion for the sea, Peadar Macken.

And now the small piano is back in tune – for the first time since 1954, thanks to Athenry-based tuner Brian Maloney of Maloney Pianos, who spent time at Peadar’s house in Castlegar over the last few weeks.

Peadar is himself man of many parts – passionate about Irish culture and language, and through that, a boatbuilder. And his passion for his craft saw him play a fundamental role in the revival of the tradition of currach building in Galway City over the last two decades.

That in turn led to his next project – building largescale replicas of famous sailing ships. This began with the Concepcion del Cano, a naval ship from the Spanish Armada of 1588, which was wrecked off the coast of Carna.

Others of a similar scale followed . . . of the Famine ship, the brig St John; the PS Connaught; Shackleton’s polar research vessel, Endurance, and the SS Athenia – the first British ship to be attacked by Germany in World War II.

Plans to open an actual museum in Cong failed to materialise, but the models are currently on display at Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach (the Emigrants and Diaspora Centre) in Carna – and Peadar is hopeful that Údarás na Gaeltachta may partner him in long-term plans to find a permanent home.

Even now he’s not sure exactly how the ship piano’s owner, Frank Curran, found him to offer him stewardship of a what had become – in bizarre circumstances – something of a family heirloom.

“Even when I went to Dublin to meet him, I was sure he would change his mind. But he didn’t. I know he saw our website and he must have liked what we’re doing. And we’re delighted to have such a piece of maritime history,” said Peadar.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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