***IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** 4th of February 2019
Official Launching and Boat Blessings for the St.Michael’s Rowing Club, Dun Laoghaire
St. Michael’s Rowing Club, Dun Laoghaire hosted the official launching and blessing of their new east coast rowing skiff on Saturday, the 2nd of February 2019. The event took place at 11am in Coal Harbour, Dun Laoghaire in the presence of club members, supporters, local community representatives and official stakeholders. Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD and Richard Boyd Barrett, TD were in attendance, along with a number of local councillors. Special guest for the event was boat builder Louis Hunkin of W.C Hunkin and Sons, who was joined by his family.
St. Michael’s Rowing Club has been at the heart of Dun Láoghaire since the 1920s, ensuring the continuity of traditional Irish skiff rowing, which was passed on from the hobblers of old. In the early 1900s, the hobblers of Dún Laoghaire Harbour and elsewhere along the coast were starting to decline as a result of steam and motor engines. However, they would still race each other out to a coming ship to pilot her ashore. They also held races among themselves at the end of the week for sport. The tradition is honoured nowadays through the many skiff regattas along the east coast during the summer months.
“Today St. Michael’s is a vibrant and thriving club,” said James Tedd, club Chairperson. “Since 2014 our membership has more than doubled in size. It is heartening to see both youth and adult rowers embrace traditional Irish skiff rowing and carry on this tradition, especially given the fact that we count more than 15 different nationalities among our members. We take great pride in the club’s diversity and inclusive spirit, which is in line with our mission and strategy,” he added.
Gary Byrne, the club Captain, underlined that this dynamic growth in membership has led to a proportional increase in the fleet. “The Gráinne Mhaol, our new skiff, is the seventh boat in our fleet. With more than 65 training sessions per week during peak season, her arrival could not have been more opportune,” he said.
The Captain also spoke about the need for access to proper, adequate facilities for the club members. “We are one of the oldest rowing clubs on the east coast. At the moment, the only premises we have, located in Coal Harbour, are fit for storage and maintenance work,” he added. “We are active, we are determined, and we love to compete and win medals, from the youngest members, barely 10 years of age, to the most experienced vets. Access to facilities would be a huge improvement for our members, and would allow us to continue to grow and promote this sport.”
Amy Smith, club treasurer in 2017-2018, said: “We are grateful for the funding for the Gráinne Mhaol, which was provided under the 2017 Sports Capital Programme by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Many thanks also to our sponsors for today’s event: Tesco Dun Laoghaire, SuperValu Killiney and SuperValu Dun Laoghaire. And of course, huge thanks to Louis Hunkin, for building the boat and entrusting her to us.”
The ceremony was performed by Fr. Martin Daly who blessed not only the Gráinne Mhaol but also the new-to-the-club one design boat, Eibhlín Nua. Chris Greene, club Captain in 2017-2018, ensured that the boats had a festive champagne baptism before they were launched into the Dun Laoghaire harbour for the first time.
More details about St. Michael’s Rowing Club are available on the website at https://www.dunlaoghairerowing.com/
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