NSW Hunter-based Irishmen Joe McManus and Jamie Cleere have spent the lead up to St Patrick's Day hand-crafting a traditional wooden boat called a currach, which they hope to row under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Mr McManus said the friends started the 17-foot project last October, after a day paddleboarding on the Hunter River. "We were talking about home one day [Mr McManus is from Roscommon and Mr Cleere from Kilkenny] and Jamie said 'Can you imagine if there was a currach coming towards us?'" Mr McManus said. "The thing about Jamie is he has built a beautiful canoe before, so he's had a go at boats. "He said 'Let's build one' and I said 'Right, let's have a go'." Mr McManus of Maitland described a currach as "basically a basket covered in hide", although he and East Maitland's Mr Cleere will use canvas painted with tar to render it waterproof. He said two experienced people could usually build a currach in three days. "It's not hugely technical," he said. "You can make it incredibly technical, which I have to be honest Jamie has done because he's an engineer. "It's going to be the most refined, highly designed, aerodynamic, beautifully built currach, everything is perfect on it. "Because he's an engineer it's going to be absolutely stunning, but it's not expected." Mr McManus said the most time-consuming part of the project had been "steaming" 60 lats of mostly Tasmanian oak for an hour each, before bending them using a mould overnight, to form the currach's ribs. "At home they use green wood off the tree, you can shape it and it's green and it bends and you can use it there and then, that's why you can do it so quickly," he said. IN OTHER NEWS: Using dry Australian wood meant they had to slide each lat into a length of drain pipe. "What we've been doing is you attach the drain pipe to a strong piece of wood and you prop it against your rafter in your shed - and you put it on top of a kettle spout so the steam just goes up." He said the friends were hoping to test their currach at Coal Point before officially launching it at Hearts and Minds Social in Toukley. Mr McManus said they will then ask representatives from the Gadigal people in Sydney for their permission to row it under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunrise. If allowed, the Consulate General of Ireland in Sydney has expressed its interest in being involved. "It's iconic and the thought of a currach rowing under it - it's very much bringing home to home if you know what I mean, it's like touching two ends of a ring," he said. They've also applied to display it temporarily at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Mr McManus has written an album, An Crotach, which can be played as part of a future installation. "Myself and a friend Marty [Mairtin Mag Uidhir] have written a song in the Irish language about taking a trip in a currach and what that's like," he said. "I wrote a verse and it's all of the excitement of being in a boat, the wonder of pushing the boat into the water, of having your dog with you on the boat, of going fishing and it being a beautiful day. Marty wrote three more verses." Mr McManus said the possibilities for the currach were endless. "We can do festivals, if an Irish person is having a 50th and they're very attached to currachs we can bring it to them - it can be a community boat," he said. "Jamie's dream is to build another one and have currach races, because that's the thing every year in Connemara. By doing this we've brought home closer. "All the Irish people are so fascinated by it, they're so encouraging and supportive and want this thing to manifest out here like some kind of totem. "It really is a great feeling, there's been nothing but goodwill and good energy around it. "It kind of represents being out here together, so we really have to pull together, you know. Just like rowing a boat."