The Irish Coastal Rowing Federation was founded in 25th/26th April 1992 when the Chairman of Passage West Rowing Club, Mr. Liam Healy invited representatives from the Irish Yawl Rowing Association, the East Coast Rowing Council and the South & Mid Kerry Rowing Board to a meeting in the Park Place Hotel in Killarney, Co. Kerry with the aim of placing the annual All-Ireland regatta which had been held on an informal basis over the previous number of years between Clubs from the three associations. The tradition being that the winner of the Senior Men’s race earned the right to host the regatta the following year. Because Passage West had won the Senior Men’s race at the All-Ireland regatta in Cobh in 1991, they had the hosting rights for 1992. Liam recognised the potential of the regatta if it were to be given formal status with its own rules and regulations and so the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation was borne.
Some of the attendees at that first meeting were:
- Representing the Irish Yawl Rowing Association
Liam Healy (Passage West RC), Simon Walsh (Whitegate RC), Mark Richards (Fishermen RC).
- Representing the East Coast Rowing Council
John Flynn (Wicklow RC), Mick Curry (Stella Maris RC), David Naughton (Dalkey RC).
- Representing the South & Mid Kerry Rowing Board
Padraig O’Shea (Sive RC), Gerard Costello (Killorglin RC), John Twiss(Callinafercy RC).
There were many more individuals from both Cork & Kerry who attended but the names have been lost in time.
The very first rule that was agreed was that the hosting rights would no longer go to the winner of the Senior Men’s race. It was agreed that from that time forward, the hosting rights would be awarded on a round robin basis with the East Coast having the rights for 1993 and Kerry having the rights for 1994. Other rules that were agreed were the race lengths, 800m, 1500m 2700m. That the qualifying date for Underage & Overage races would be on the 1st January of each year rather than on the race day which had been the practice up to then. Another rule was the use of individual turning buoys for each boat and rules of who had right of way etc. in the turns.
The names ‘Irish Coastal Rowing Federation’ and ‘All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships’ were born at that meeting and the decision was also made to award an ‘All-Ireland’ medal instead of the traditional trophies which had been the norm at that time. (The medal was subsequently designed by John Flynn of the ECRC) and the three associations each contributed £100 towards the cost of the medal die.
The first ‘Official’ All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships was held in Passage West on the weekend of 5th/6th September 1992. This event was primarily organised and run by Passage West Rowing Club and the Irish Yawl Rowing Association and involved clubs from all three associations plus Carnlough & Cairndhu from Co. Antrim. Officers from the other two associations acted mainly in observer/guest capacities. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Mr. Micháel Martin launched that first event.
The first Official Committee of the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation was appointed at our first AGM which was held in the CoisFarraige Hotel in Bray, Co. Wicklow. That first Committee comprised of four elected Officers: President: Mr. Liam Healy (IYRA),Chairman: Micháel Kennefick (IYRA), Secretary: John Flynn (ECRC), Treasurer: Mary Hayes (IYRA). Shortly afterwards, two new associations joined the ICRF, the Antrim Coast Rowing Association and the Slaney Rowing Association from Wexford.
In the years that followed, the Irish Yawl Rowing Association outgrew itself and for purely logistical reasons, split into twoseperate geographical associations: The Coastal Rowing Association primarily based in and around Cork Harbour but stretching as far as West as Kinsale and then the South West Coast Yawl Rowing Association which encompased clubs from Kilmacsimon nearInnishannon as far West as Schull & Bantry.
The Irish Coastal Rowing Federation is now recognised as the Governing Body of Coastal Rowing in the Island of Ireland and now has seven autominous regional associations who each run their own regatta leagues during the summer months and then come together in August each month to take part in the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships. There have been 27 All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships held since 1992 (28 if you count the fact that it had to be held twice in 1993 when rowing had to be abandoned on the original Sunday due to severe sea conditions in Wicklow Bay and the majority of clubs returned two weeks later).
The Associations affiliated to the ICRF are:
- The East Coast Rowing Council (which technically now is the only remaining founding member).
- The Antrim Coast Rowing Association.
- The Wexford Rowing Association.
- The Down Coastal Rowing Association.
- The Kerry Coastal Rowing Association (which is an amalgamation of the South & Mid Kerry Rowing Board, the Killarney Lakes Rowing Clubs & North Kerry Clubs).
- The Donegal Coastal Rowing Association.
Since 1992, the Host venues of the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships have been:
1992: Passage West Co. Cork. 1993: Wicklow. 1994: Baltimore, Co. Cork. 1995: Union Hall, Co. Cork. 1996: Carnlough, Co. Antrim. 1997: Valentia Island, Co. Kerry. 1998: Kinsale, Co. Cork. 1999: Ringsend, Dublin. 2000: Wexford. 2001: Schull, Co. Cork. 2002: Carnlough, Co. Antrim. 2003: Cromane, Co. Kerry. 2004: Lower Aghada (Whitegate), Co. Cork. 2005: Wicklow.2006: Kilrane, Co. Wexford. 2007: Union Hall, Co. Cork. 2008: Carnfunnock, (Cairndhu), Larne, Co. Antrim. 2009: Waterville, Co. Kerry. 2010: Lower Aghada, Co. Cork. 2011: Kilrane, Co. Wexford. 2012: Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork. 2013:Carnlough, Co. Antrim. 2014: Waterville, Co. Kerry. 2015: Waterville, Co. Kerry. 2016: Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. 2017: Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, 2018: Wexford Town, 2019: Dingle, Co Kerry
The All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships has evolved into one of the largest single sport, single venue, team events in the country with over 500 from 40 clubs involving upto 3000 individual competitors taking part in the 2019 Championships. It is by far, the largest regatta of any code in Ireland and one of the biggest in Europe. In 2020 we will be returning to Dingle, Co. Kerry
Due to the restrictions imposed during the COVID 19 Pandemic, the 2020 & 2021 All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships had to be cancelled and we look forward to meeting the Coastal Rowing Community at the 2022 All-Irelands.
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