Rowing Ireland was founded as the Irish Amateur Rowing Union in 1899 and has been the recognised governing body on the island of Ireland since then. It established the first rowing Championship in 1912 and has been sending crews to world championships and Olympic Games since 1948. It is currently on a high following the exploits of the popular O’Donovan brothers in taking a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Last September the team returned from the World Championships in Florida with two World titles. This year the National Rowing Centre will host a festival of rowing over three weeks in July. The Irish Championship with an anticipated entry of over 1,100 crews is first up. This is followed a week later by the Home International Regatta between Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. The highlight of the festival will be the Coupe de la Jeunesse, which is a European Junior Championship, with crews from fourteen countries expected. All of this activity is taking place in Olympic or river style boats.
In 2017 Rowing Ireland formed an Offshore Division. Offshore rowing or “FISA Coastal” rowing takes place in single, double and quad scull boats which are wider than Olympic boats and more importantly are self-bailing. The crews race a course with multiple turns around a single buoy where navigation is as important as pulling hard. The inaugural Irish Offshore Rowing Championships were held in Arklow in 2017 and over 20 crews competed in the FISA World Championships in France where they returned with a silver medal. This highly exciting form of rowing has often been referred to as the BMX of rowing !
Following lobbying from 20 coastal clubs, Rowing Ireland also created a Coastal Division in 2017. Coastal rowing has a long tradition going back centuries and was often associated with boats rowing out to arriving ships to obtain work. Competition in traditional wooden boats or coastal fours takes place in lanes with crews rounding individual buoys before returning to the start/finish line. The inaugural Irish Coastal Rowing Championships will take place in the National Rowing Centre in August on a separate part of the lake to the Olympic course. This is expected to be the largest coastal rowing regatta in Ireland this year.
For the first time all three rowing codes are under the umbrella of Rowing Ireland. To celebrate this watershed in the development of the sport, Rowing Ireland brought boats from all three codes together for the first time at the National Rowing Centre on Saturday 24th February. The three boats are from left, a Coastal Four, an Offshore Quad Scull and an Olympic quad scull. Speaking at the photo-shoot, Kieran Kerr, Chair of the Coastal & Offshore divisions said “This is a wonderful occasion bringing all three rowing codes together for the first time. Rowing Ireland is delighted that the coastal and offshore clubs have joined the Rowing Ireland family and we are committed to developing and growing all three codes so that eventually there is a rowing club in every county in Ireland offering coastal, river or offshore rowing”.