Skibbereen Rowing Club

Established 1970


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A Welcome From the Chairman

Posted on March 2, 2020 at 3:40 PM



December 2019 

A welcome from the Chairman

I would like to welcome you to the first edition of Skibbereen Rowing Club’s news, I hope that you will find it a useful and an interesting way to keep up to date with rowing news as well as shedding some light on the history of the club and its personalities.


I took over the role of Chairperson in 2018 from Tony Walsh who has been a great help in easing me into the job. I am originally from Dublin but came to Cork about 20 years ago via the Mediterranean, where I worked as professional yacht crew. While travelling I had the good fortune to meet my wife Janet who also worked on these boats at the time. On our return to Ireland I took up a job as a Hydrographic Surveyor for a number of years before taking up my current position with the Department of the Marine. We have three children, two of which are rowing with the club at junior level.


My first year as Chairperson has passed incredibly quickly, but what an interesting and busy year it has been! The junior rowing section of the club continues to be very vibrant as may be witnessed on weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings with every manner of boat combination out on the water.


The coaches deserve much praise for handling the large number of Junior athletes, progressing them from the training boats to ensure they are ready and able for pieces on a Saturday and Sunday morning.


The Club athletes enjoyed much success at national and international level, winning 5 national titles at Champs which moved the Clubs tally to 183 wins. Whilst the under-16 Girls and Boys quads also won their respective national titles with commanding performances. The highlight of many fine performances by our senior athletes was Paul and Fintan's world champion victory in the lightweight doubles, qualifying the boat for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.


The Skibbereen Regatta was held on the May Bank Holiday weekend at the National Rowing Centre and the Skibbereen Head of the River just recently on the 16th of November on the River Lee. Both events were a great success due to the contribution of many volunteers, including present and past members and of course the parents of our athletes. It deserves a special mention that the Masters Women’s 8 Skibbereen/Bantry composite won their first pennant in at our recent Head.


There were many fundraising events during the past year, some of which are annual events such as the Christmas swim, the Flag Day and a quiz night, but some new additions include a Bake Sale at the Carbery Show, clothes-for clobber -collection and a very enjoyable Bingo Night held at Abeystrewry Hall. These fundraising events are an important source of income ensuring we can provide the best of equipment for our athletes and continue to improve our training facilities.


There were a number of individuals and companies not directly related tothe club who very kindly donated their services - Lehanes Environmental and Waste Management Ltd, Fergal Morgan (Painting and Decorating) and Keohanes Readymix who provided a defibrillator unit which is mounted on the boathouse wall. A Meitheal took place at the end of the rowing season in July where parents and athletes participated in landscaping, painting and a general clean-up, which epitomises the commitment by many of those involved in the club to help out in maintaining our facilities.


Growth is important to every club and we are no exception At the moment plans are underway to install a pontoon in order to improve water safety and launching of boats. A second project proposes expanding the existing clubhouse to include extra boat storage and improved training and welfare facilities. Obviously these projects entail significant capital costs, so keep the fund-raising ideas coming!


2020 promises to be a very exciting year for Skibbereen Rowing Club. Not only is it an Olympic year it is also the Golden Anniversary of the Clubs foundation. Watch this space for the various celebration activities planned during the year!


It will be wonderful to see all of you, who have supported the club over the past 50 years, return and join us in our celebrations. This is the recognition of what this Club, of which you have been a part, has achieved and the part every individual has played in that success. It’s continued growth and prosperity depends on all of us, to contribute in whatever way we can, and keep supporting the rowing club on the Ilen far into the future.


Book Launch


Recently we had the timely launch of Kieran McCarthy’s book ‘Something in the Water - How Skibbereen Rowing Club Conquered the World”, which was held at the West Cork Hotel. This event proved to be a huge success as it brought together current and past members who enjoyed an evening of sharing memories and stories about the Club.

Saturday 04th November at Aras an Uachtarain

Posted on November 12, 2017 at 1:20 PM

Skibbereen rowing club has had many significant days in its 47 years of existence and last Saturday 04th November at Áras an Uachtaráin was no exception. President Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins warmly welcomed athletes, members, supporters and distinguished Olympians of Skibbereen rowing club with enthusiasm and a feeling of celebration.

Each athlete was formally introduced to President Higgins and Sabina Higgins – with Donnie Fitzgerald, Danny Murphy and Richard Hosford our founding members also in line. Did they ever conceive when they set up the rowing club 47 years ago that one day they would be standing with their fellow club mates meeting the President of Ireland at Áras an Uachtaráin. It is a true testament to their vision that rowing became an integral part of many people’s lives from a young age. With many of them moving up through the ranks and on to accomplish and collect many outstanding achievements - be it winning domestic regattas, national championships, world championships or Olympic medals. Rowing is now enjoying a new breath of life after the success of the O’Donovan brothers last year at the Rio Olympics and is quickly becoming the number one sport for young people to try and participate in around the country.

President Higgins addressed the audience with passion, admiration and encouraged Skibbereen rowing club to keep developing world class rowers. The President noted that in Skibbereen Rowing club’s short life span the athletes have amassed more national rowing championships than any other club in the country, including some that have existed for over a century.

“You have’nt been wasting your time” quipped the President to great applause!

The President marveled that Skibbereen Rowing club has a large community of people who volunteer and help out – be it family, friends or neighbours all providing nurture and support to all athletes training on the river Ilen.

Uachtaráin Ó hUiginn accredited some of the successes achieved to “those who coach, who instruct, who encourage, who train, who counsel and who perhaps most importantly impart a certain persistence in athletes for demanding competitions in sometimes difficult conditions. Skibbereen and indeed Ireland have been fortunate that Dominic Casey has full filled that role over many years, shaping generations of rowers and producing -to date- five Olympians and numerous international athletes”

The address concluded with President Higgins thanking Skibbereen rowing club for being an example “of what can be acheived when communities work towards a common good- when people come together with dedication to a common purpose we can, all of us accomplish great and remarkable feats”

Nuala Lupton President of Skibbereen rowing club and Máire Keating Registar of Skibbereen rowing club responded to the Presidents’ address with kind words and appreciation for the honor and privilage for the invitation to Áras an Uachtaráin.

Junior athletes Lorna Nugent and Alan Cotter presented President Higgins and Sabina Higgins with a unique gift from Skibbereen and young Dominc Casey presented the Skibbereen rowing club tie to President Higgins.

‘Dear ol Skibbereen’ echoed around the halls of Áras an Uachtaráin thanks to Seanie O’ Brien Skibbereen Rowing club Captain which was a very fitting ending to the remakable day – which will live long in the clubs history and memory.


And loud and high we'll raise the cry," Remember Skibbereen!"

Irish Rowing History

Posted on August 13, 2016 at 1:55 AM

Row �?? A view of Skibbereen Rowing Club through the lens of Debbie Heaphy

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 12:40 AM

Row – A view of Skibbereen Rowing Club through the lens of Debbie Heaphy

22 January – 2 April

Stairwell Gallery, Uillinn, West Cork Art Centre, Skibbereen.

Photo: Emma Jervis

Row, a fundraising exhibition for Skibbereen Rowing Club. Each framed photograph in the exhibition is limited to one print/edition only. The accompanying publication Row is a limited edition and is also available for sale. All proceeds from sales go towards raising funds for the club to help ensure that Skibbereen Rowing Club can continue to provide the foundation for the best athletes in the world.

Uillinn is delighted to present this exhibition of photographs of the highly successful Skibbereen Rowing Club by Debbie Heaphy. Debbie has been recording the activities of Skibbereen Rowing Club for the past four years, often accompanying coach Dominic Casey in his launch on early morning training sessions. She says 'having spent the last four years with these athletes, I am totally in awe of the resilience, focus and commitment of these young people. I have watched them strive to achieve what, at times, would seem to be unreachable goals'.

2015 was a very successful year for the club with seventeen Skibbereen athletes rowing for the Irish National Squad, and two rowers, brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan qualifying in September for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Shane O’Driscoll, Mark O’Donovan and Denise Walsh still have a chance to qualify.


This exhibition is a compilation of what Debbie regards as her best photographs from her time at the club. She says 'I hope to portray through the exhibition, the intensity of training and the essence and sense of place of the Ilen River and also a snap shot of the unique and extraordinary journey of the boys and girls from Skibbereen who are determined to take on the world.'


This exhibition has been made possible through the support and generosity of many people - Bob Clarke and his team at Sign Studio, Skibbereen; James O’Mahony and Pearce Hickey of Pierce Hickeys, Skibbereen; Sebastian Peters of Quality Wood Mouldings; Sean McDonagh of Acorn framers; Dominic Casey of Marsh Media; Union Hall Computers and Paul Heaphy of Casey’s Bar, Union Hall.



Each photograph is priced at €250 and is a once off print of this image.

The publication Row was priced at €15 for the opening night and €20 thereafter.

Available from Uillinn, Skibbereen or Direct from Debbie Heaphy




World Cup Regatta & Irish National Championships. Extract Southern Star Sat July 11th

Posted on July 9, 2015 at 9:10 AM

Skibbereen Rowing Club athletes have a busy time ahead this weekend with The Irish National Championship Regatta and the final World Cup Regatta of 2015. Both events begin on Friday the 10th, and follow through Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th of July.


Skibbereen has 5 athletes Representing Ireland at the World Cup Regatta in Lucerne Switzerland. This is the 3rd and final World Cup regatta of 2015 and it will be the final test for crews before the World Championship and Olympic qualifier regatta to be held in France in early September.


Skibbereen representation for Ireland is being led by U.C.D Scholarship student 21 year old Paul O’ Donovan who rows with his brother Gary O’ Donovan in the men’s Lightweight double scull. This category is one of the most competitive boat classes in the World Cup Regatta series with all athletes weighing an average of 70 kg; it makes for very tight competition with races often being decided by a photo finish. Even getting into the semi final is a major challenge in itself. Paul and Gary are no strangers to top class competition having recently finished 5th in the final of the European Championships in this boat class and Paul finished 4th in the men’s Lightweight single scull at last years World Championship Regatta in Amsterdam. Paul has rarely finished outside the top 4 in any major international event over the last few years.


Having said that whatever happens this weekend the Skibbereen men are looking beyond Lucerne Regatta and have their sights firmly set on the world championships later in the summer where the top 11 boats will qualify for the Olympics in Rio in the lightweight men’s double scull.


The men’s lightweight pair of Mark O’ Donovan and Shane O’ Driscoll are racing in this boat class for the first time and are looking forward to the challenge. The Skibbereen men only recently moved into the pair and are proud to represent their Country at the highest level in this event. They will be keen to make their mark. It will also be a big test for them as regards the World Championships later in the year.


Denise Walsh is competing in the women’s Lightweight single Scull, a very competitive event with a maximum weight of 59kg for each athlete. Denise will be anxious to make her mark in this boat category having previously been an A finalist at the World Under 23 rowing Championships in this event.


The Irish National Rowing Championships also take place at the National Rowing Centre on Inisscarra lake Farran Wood next weekend.


While the athletes on International duty will put a serious dent on Skibbereen rowing clubs representation at the National Championships it will by no means affect the spirit and enthusiasm of the squad of 36 athletes who will strive to add to the 146 national titles the club has won since 1975.


Skibbereen Rowing Clubs success at national level has been one of the main instigators of the clubs over all success since the foundation of the club 45 years ago. In particular the honour of becoming a National Champion in ones chosen sport has been one of the main catalysts of a very high level of Irish National team representation by the clubs athletes.


This years Skibbereen team is being led by 34-year-old Kenneth McCarthy on the men’s side who is seeking his 16th National Title a fantastic record in itself. Kenneth is a former Irish International and will use his vast experience to help the squad achieve the best possible results.


Like wise the Skibbereen women’s team is being led by another former Irish International 29 year old Orla Hayes who will be seeking her 14th National Title which is another great record. Having senior athletes of that calibre in the squad

brings great confidence to the younger athletes many of who will be serious contenders for national honours.


The men will contest 10 National Championships in boat classes that include the eight, four, double, pair and single. The women will contest 11 National Championships in the eight, four, quad scull, double scull, pair and single events.


Also the possibility of winning more National Championships than any other club in Ireland is getting glaringly close (just 4 away) and whether it happens this year or not it will be a huge milestone in the clubs history and indeed will be another spur to drive the athletes on. Nuala Lupton the current club president won the first National Title for Skibbereen Rowing Club in 1975. Skibbereen Rowing Club has achieved more National Championships (146) in its short 45-year history than any other club in Ireland bar one. No other club has come close in that timeframe? Surpassing Clubs with rowing traditions going back centuries, including all the universities makes Skibbereen Rowing Club unique in rowing history.



Year of 2014

Posted on December 31, 2014 at 6:05 AM

2014 was yet another successful and memorable year for Skibbereen Rowing Club. Athletes from the club competed at both International and domestic level with impressive results throughout. The Club won the Grand League Series for the 5th year in a row as well as bringing their tally of National Titles to 146. Eleven athletes represented their country at international events, including the World Rowing Championships putting Skibbereen and West Cork on the map, both at national and international level. The Club held its regatta in Farranwood at the National Rowing Center in April over two days which now has become the premier regatta on the Irish rowing calendar.On the home front the Ilen river was a hive of activity throughout the year with up to 8000 boat launchings in one of the best rowing waterways in Ireland.



Grand League Series

This years Grand League Series comprised of three regattas, including the club’s own regatta which was held over two days at the National Rowing Centre in Farranwood. Dublin Metropolitan regatta was held in Blessington, Co. Wicklow while Cork City regatta was also held in Farranwood. Skibbereen Rowing Club were the overall winners of the series in 2014 for the 5th year in a row and all the athletes of the club put in good performances at these regattas to continue the clubs domination of the league since it started 5 years ago. Skibbereen were overall winners of the womens division 1 title as well.

National Championships

Skibbereen rowing club increased their number of Championship titles to 146 in early July. Gary O Donovan and Shane O Driscoll were dominant in both the senior and intermediate mens double sculls, winning both events by comfortable margins. Niamh Casey, Emily Hegarty, Louise O Sullivan and Ellen McCarthy took the womens junior 18 quadscull title. Niamh, Emily and Ellen were joined by Aoife Casey in the womens junior 18 coxless four to record another great win.

Many other athletes put in good performances throughout the weekend, just missing out on medals. There was also great success at underage level, a promising feat for the future. Adam Davis, John Whooley, James Davis, Denis O Sullivan and cox Orlaith Keating took gold in the mens junior 15 coxed quadscull. Aoibhinn Keating, Lauryn McCarthy, Alicia O’ Neill and Brianna O Shea were coxed by Orlaith Keating in the womens junior 14 coxed quadscull, winning gold in what was the closest race of the day.

Memorial Paulo D’Aloja

Paul O Donovan travelled to Piediluco in Italy with the Irish team to compete at the Memorial Paulo D’Aloja regatta where he competed in the mens lightweight single scull. The Skibbereen man finished fourth in the A final on day 1 of the event. He then went on to improve on this performance and took bronze in lightweight single on the second day. This was a good start to his international campaign for the 2014 season.

European Rowing Championships, Belgrade, Serbia

Paul O Donovan also travelled to the Eurpoean Rowing Championships in Belgrade. He put in good performances throughout the weekend to finish 2nd in the C final and 14th overall at the event.

World Cup, Aiguebelette

The club had two athletes competing for Ireland at the 2nd World Cup regatta which was held in Aigubelette, France. Paul O Donovan competed in the mens lightweight single scull while Denise Walsh was joined by Claire Lambe in the womens lightweight double scull. Paul improved on his European performance, winning the B final in this event, giving him a 7th place overall . Denise and Claire were rowing in their first international event together. They had to go through the repechage at this event but gained confidence throughout the regatta. They finished 5th in the B final and 11th place overall.

World U23 Rowing Championships

This years World Under 23 Championships were held in Varese, Italy. The club was well represented at the event with four Skibbereen athletes chosen to represent Ireland at the event. Paul O Donovan finished in 4th place, just outside the medals in the lightweight mens single sculls. Gary O Donovan and Shane O Driscoll improved on last years placing, finishing 10th out of 19 boats. Denise put in a good performance in her heat of the women’s lightweight single scull but had to withdraw from the event after this race due to illness.

Homes International Regatta

This years home international regatta took place in Ireland. Fintan Mccarthy took gold in the mens junior double scull while Dylan McCarthy finished 3rd in the mens junior 18 quadscull. Niamh Casey and Ellen McCarthy finished 3rd in the womens junior 18 coxless pair and 2nd in the womens junior 18 coxed 8. This was all four athletes first time representing Ireland and they will hope to build on this experience for the coming season.

Coupe De La Jeunesse

Emily Hegarty formed part of the junior 18 quadscull which was chosen to represent Ireland at the Coupe De La Jeunesse which was held in France. This was also Emily’s first international event. The crew competed in the B final on both days of the event, gaining valuable experience .

World University Championships

Gary O Donovan, Shane O Driscoll, Orla Hayes and Shelly Dineen travelled to the University Championships in France. Shane and Gary competed in the lightweight mens double scull finishing in 6th place overall. Orla Hayes just missed out on a medal in the lightweight womens double scull, finishing in 4th place while Shelly Dineen raced the B final of the womens coxless fours.

World Rowing Championships

Denise Walsh and Paul O Donovan competed at their first Senior World Championships in Amsterdam this year. DeniseWalsh once again rowed with Claire Lambe in the lightweight womens double scull at this event. The duo were unlucky with their side of the draw and found themselves racing the C final. They ended the regatta with a 14th place finish out of 21 boats.

Paul O Donovan put in another strong performance at the World Rowing Championships as he grew in confidence as the year went on. He ensured himself a spot in the A final of the lightweight mens single scull at the World Championships having safely come through his heat, quarter final and semi final. Paul’s sprint to the line in the final gave him a 4th place finish, a great achievement for him at this level.

Overall it was a very busy year for the club with athletes putting Skibbereen and West Cork on the map both at home and abroad.

These results do not come easily and all the athletes put in a lot of work throughout the year. Credit is also due to the coaches who help them to achieve these results , to the parents who support them at different events and to everyone who supports the club a special thank you. Athletes are aiming high for the coming season and it is hoped that the club can achieve even more for the year of 2015.