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‘All in a Row’ Marathon Charity Challenge on Dublin’s River Liffey Provides A Great Boat Show Afloat

16th December 2021
“Well lads, how’s the GDP going this week then?” The very special 1954-vintage George Bushe-built Crosshaven skiff Lorelei moves sweetly past the Central Bank on Dublin’s River Liffey, rowed by the Stella Maris club of Ringsend in last weekend’s All In A Row Charity Challenge
“Well lads, how’s the GDP going this week then?” The very special 1954-vintage George Bushe-built Crosshaven skiff Lorelei moves sweetly past the Central Bank on Dublin’s River Liffey, rowed by the Stella Maris club of Ringsend in last weekend’s All In A Row Charity Challenge

When we revealed the background to the Crosshaven-built George Bushe rowing skiff Lorelei of 1954 vintage, many sailors of traditional outlook could have been forgiven for reckoning this innovative craft would still stand out as decidedly unusual in any gathering of skiffs.

But these days, after a period when designers of the calibre of Rob Jacob of Kinsale have turned their skills to making the best of the Coastal Rowing Hull Rules, there are some decidedly advanced craft afloat. And at last weekend’s All In A Row challenge in Dublin the Lorelei - which thanks to Darryl Hughes of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association is now in the charge of the Stella Maris Rowing Club of Ringsend - was just one of many exotics, some of them very exotic indeed, in a fleet which took in several traditional types, including a good turnout of the classic coastal skiffs as used in times past by the Dublin Bay hobblers.

“The end is in the beginning and yet you go on…..” The fleet coming through the Sam Beckett Bridge evokes the thought of a quote from the Nobel Laureate“The end is in the beginning and yet you go on…..” The fleet coming through the Sam Beckett Bridge evokes the thought of a quote from the Nobel Laureate

The functional beauty of a classic coastal skiff, as used in times long past by the hobblers of Dublin Bay to take pilots to incoming ships

‘All In A Row 2021’ on Saturday was a challenge for the teams to smash a 1,000km target in eight hours. Forty skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs were on the water to raise funds for the RNLI and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The event started from St. Patrick’s Rowing Club at the Tom Clarke Bridge (formerly the East Link Bridge) and rowers turned at the Ha’penny Bridge, before rowing back down river to the Tom Clarke Bridge. This annual challenge is undertaken with the aim of showcasing the River Liffey as one of Dublin’s best amenities, while raising funds for the water-related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit. The event raised in excess of €12,000.

“This is no job for sissies…..” The Stella Maris club’s junior team put their shoulders into it.“This is no job for sissies…..” The Stella Maris club’s junior team put their shoulders into it.
By contrast, a very effort-economical machine, complete with an offshore racer’s retroussé transom and sugar-scoop stern. You might well think of fitting a sailing rig…..By contrast, a very effort-economical machine, complete with an offshore racer’s retroussé transom and sugar-scoop stern. You might well think of fitting a sailing rig…..

At 1 pm all the boats gathered on the Liffey at the Sean O’Casey footbridge where a wreath-laying ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland, took place to commemorate all those who have lost their lives through drowning.

The Lord Mayor said: “The River Liffey is such an important part of the city of Dublin, and it is wonderful to see so many people using and enjoying the river in this range of skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs. Best of luck to all those taking part today, and well done for rising to the challenge of rowing 1,000 km, showcasing our beautiful river and raising money for two great water related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.”

Is there room at the Inn? Seasonable re-enactment by Anne Marie Scully, Derek Kellett, Linda Byron (President of Canoeing Ireland) and Eamonn DuffyIs there room at the Inn? Seasonable re-enactment by Anne Marie Scully, Derek Kellett, Linda Byron (President of Canoeing Ireland) and Eamonn Duffy

Many Dublin rowing clubs have their home on the River Liffey and are a regular sight on the water. At the port end of the river is St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, Stella Maris Rowing Club, East Wall Water Sports Group and Poolbeg Yacht and Boat club. Ringsend Basin is home to the Plurabelle Paddlers (dragon boats) and the Dublin Viking Dragon boats. At the other end of the city beyond Heuston Station, there are many river rowing clubs and kayaking clubs, including Phoenix Rowing Club. Rowing clubs from other parts of Ireland are joining in this ongoing challenge to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

Competitors were asked to raise sponsorship for the event, and also for spectators and supporters, there is a GoFundMe page for donations here

The Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit

The Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (“IUSRU”) is a charity registered in the Republic of Ireland under charity number, CHY20132.

When people go missing on rivers, canals, lakes or around our coasts they go beyond the reach of the public and require specialist equipment and personnel to bring them home, and the IUSRU (founded 2012) is made up of a dedicated team of volunteers who’s objective is to search for missing people underwater and recover them for their families and friends so they can be given a dignified resting place.

rowing river liffeyIt became a living Boat Show Afloat in the heart of Dublin

RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI’s volunteers operate a 24-hour search and rescue operation 100 nautical miles out from the coast of Ireland and the UK. There are 46 lifeboat stations in Ireland, four of which are inland at Carrybridge, Enniskillen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg. There are three lifeboat stations in Dublin at Howth, Dun Laoghaire and Skerries.

In 2020, Irish lifeboats launched 945 times bringing 1,147 people to safety.

The charity’s vision is to end preventable loss of life at sea. 95% of the RNLI’s people are volunteers. In Ireland there are approximately 1,000 volunteer lifeboat crew, and over 2,000 volunteer community fundraisers as well as many other dedicated volunteers who raise awareness, give safety advice and help out in RNLI shops and offices. 

The Stella Maris crew expressing the sheer joy of rowing an easily-moved boat as they shift Lorelei up the Liffey at Ringsend.The Stella Maris crew expressing the sheer joy of rowing an easily-moved boat as they shift Lorelei up the Liffey at Ringsend.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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