Sligo Rowing Club History

The First Boats

The next objective of the club was to source boats and a location beside the river to store them. On the boat front the club was fortunate in that Christy Lynch and his brothers who were prominent in Sligo Skiff rowing when it was at its height took it upon themselves to seek out an Aylings Four from the Garda Boat Club in the 1993. Unfortunately, the Lynch brothers never got to compete in the four but Christy made it immediately available to the club to facilitate the start-up. Other equipment donated to the club to assist with the startup included a one piece Empacher eight and two training trimmies donated by Frank Durkin of the IARU, a 1990 coxed Janousek Quad by Mike McCrohan & Robin Winkels of Tribesmen, a timber Cambridge Double from Portora and sweep blades from Athlone. Kieran Kerr of Saint Michaels donated their old trailer to the club having earlier purchased a new trailer for Micks. Initially to get to regattas the club borrowed Carrick on Shannon’s trailer to get to events and on one occasion the club loaded their Aylings Four onto the back of an Isuzu truck to bring to Athlone & Galway regattas.

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Isuzu truck

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First Safety Launch

Frank Durkin

John O'Keefe

The Idea

Sligo Rowing Club can attribute its existence to a fortuitous trip by Frank Durkin who accompanied his wife to Sligo in 2005 who happened to be attending a meeting in the town. Frank who knew he would have time on his hands opted to bring his single scull. Slipping from a jetty in town Frank rowed up the Garavogue and onto Lough Gill. Although the lake was windy that particular day Frank enjoyed his row to the extent that upon his return to the jetty he opted to seek out the nearby local Sligo Sports and Recreational Partnership and to suggest to them that a slide seat rowing club should be set up.

Deirdre Lavin and Diane Middleton of the Sligo Sports and Recreational Partnership were both very receptive to Frank's suggestion with the result that plans were soon in place and a rowing open day was soon advertised in the local papers. Frank together with John O’Keefe of Old Collegians and later founder of Three Castles Rowing Club in Blessington facilitated the day having brought boats and rowing oars to Sligo for the event. With initial contact having been made a follow up three-day rowing fest was hosted over a long weekend in March 2006 by the Irish Amateur Rowing Union. Frank and John and the Sligo Sports Partnership again facilitated the event. The day consisted of classroom introductions to rowing in the Sligo Sports and Recreational Partnership offices followed by on the water events with Frank and John bringing additional training trimmies to facilitate the event.

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The Start Up

Following the fest, a meeting was facilitated later that week by the Sligo Sports Partnership where a voluntary steering committee was set up comprising of people with existing slide seat and traditional skiff rowing experience together with people of good organizational and financial expertise. Chairman elect was Niall Davey, Secretary Mary Marandahar, Treasurer Michael Fox and coaching staff were Christy Lynch and Rory Clarke. With the committee in place club rules, constitution and code of conduct were drafted with the club affiliating to the Irish Amateur Rowing Union, now Rowing Ireland. Club name agreed was Sligo Amateur Rowing Club (SARC) which was shortened later that year to Sligo Rowing Club at a club meeting. Initial Club colours were red & black diagonal strip on a white T shirt which was later changed to the present day all black with red stripe one piece with Sean McGarry compiling the club crest on AutoCAD.

The Boat House

Initial storage of the boats was facilitated in a nearby commercial unit thanks to Kevin Quinn of the Belfry with the purchase of the first safety launch, engine & trailer being funded by the Strand Bar.

With the kind permission of Sligo County Council and the relentless endeavours of Micheal Condron the club were allowed to store their boats on the water’s edge in Doorly Park. The club ran a number of fundraisers and with the assistance of Sligo Sports Partnership and particularly Deirdre Lavin and Diane Middleton two forty foot containers were purchased which were joined together to give an 80-foot storage area to house the 60 foot eight with hinged scaffolding racks expertly assembled and erected by Michael Fox to store the boats.

The first regatta which the new club attended was the 2006 Carrick on Shannon sprint regatta in August with a boys Junior 16 coxed quad being the first boat on the water with the men’s novice 4 winning their category out right.

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Head of the River 2010

Key People

Together with Sean McGarry a number of key individuals were supportive of the club right from the gecko without who’s assistance, time and dedication both on and off the water the club and sport would simply not have taken a foothold and the resulting current platform on which the club continues to build today would not exist. Aiden Tinsley , Michael Murphy, Anne Marie O'Connor, Pat McArthur, Brian Hunt and Peter Osborne all invested significant time and effort in the formative years of the club.

Tom Colsh and Molua Donohue further bolstered the clubs continued existence when they joined the coaching staff in the early years and who continue to present-day to impart their rowing knowledge and expertise on the art of rowing to young Sligo oars people. Other people who have greatly influenced the continued existence of the sport in Sligo are Donal Hackett through his outstanding and consistent media work for the club and Ray Murtagh through his continuous facilitation of land training for the club together with his consistent fundraising ideas and efforts.