Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

History of Carlow Rowing Club



The old Carlow Boat Club on Skinners Lane alongside Corcoran & Co Ltd Motor Garage & Stores taken from Carlow Bridge c.1968

Carlow Boat Club 1968
(Photo by W. Muldowney)

Carlow Boat Club 2006
(Photo by W. Muldowney)


History of Carlow Rowing Club

Carlow Rowing Club is amongst the earliest of Irish Rowing Clubs. The first record of a regatta dates from 1859 but it is thought that boat races began even before that time. One of the first meetings of what was then known as the Carlow Regatta Yard, was held in the Corn Exchange (Deighton Hall) in May 1860. Among those who attended were James Bolger, P. Bourke, James Comerford and Henry Boake. Darby Henry Cooper of Hanover House was elected Treasurer. The next regatta was fixed for July 18th, 1860. Sir John Acton the M.P. for the Borough of Carlow presented a cup in his name for this regatta. The cup mysteriously disappeared and was never recovered.

A miniature kayak paddle won by M. F. Barnes at the Carlow Regatta of 1868.
Source: Carlow Museum.

In 1861, the prize fund amounted to £34 and ten shillings. The rowing races began at a point know as Sandy Hills owned by Pat McDonald and the course extended to the Old Graves. However this regatta ran at a loss and all proceedings were abandoned until 1864. In that year a regatta with less valuable prizes and a reduced number of races was held. The committee did not meet again until 1867 and in the following year, the regatta took place at Cloydagh Pool, a few miles south of Carlow town. The list of prizes was impressive and included two cups called the Carlow Challenge and Acton Cup, two gold rings, a breast pin for scullers and a silver paddle. The latter was awarded to winners of a canoe race. This race was won by Mr. F. Barnes who was the first captain of the Carlow Rowing Club.

In March 1869, the club was organised on a more formal footing. Hugh Doyle was elected secretary and J.F. Lynch was appointed Treasurer. Rules were drawn up and the annual subscription was fixed at one sovereign (21 shillings). During that year F. Barnes was elected Captain and Mick Hayden was appointed boat keeper. The first reference to the annual procession of boats from the boathouse to the milestone was recorded in 1869. The annual regatta of 1869 was held in October. It was in the same year that the Carlow Rowing Club acquired their premises beside the River Barrow.

Official Rowing Club 1869

This article taken from the Carlow Post 20th March 1869 states that a Rowing Club has been organized in Carlow.

We have heard with considerable satisfaction that the gentlemen who have for some years catered for the public amusement by sustaining an annual regatta, have organized a Rowing Club. Amongst the benefits to be derived there-from we look on a “Champion” prize intended to be competed for by members of clubs situated on the Barrow, as not the least as, though its means, we may, before many years, be able to send a “Barrow” crew to successfully some of the prizes at the “Metropolitan” or other regattas. The want of a Boat-house has been long felt by boat owners, and we are informed the committee appointed for general purposes, have had their attention especially directed to this subject. – We are not at present in a position to enter more fully into the subject, but hope ere long to present the Club to the public in a more perfect working form – as yet we can only wish its promoters every success.

In 1882, events at the Carlow Regatta included Junior Pairs, Senior Pairs and First Class Fours. The club was flourishing and by 1884 recorded a membership of 95. The rules of the club were revised in 1889. In 1892 the Carlow Rowing Club won a legal battle over the Barrow Navigation Company. The company had introduced Bye Laws, which stated that rowing boats were liable to a "lockage charge of 1d per boat and 4d if propelled by steam or towed from the banks". The club protested to the Board of Trade. They deemed these bye laws to be interfering with long established rights. The Board of Trade found in favour of the club and the bye laws were disallowed.

The early twentieth century period was a successful period for the Carlow Éigse Regatta 1993 Carlow Rowing Club. Four members Messrs Bell, Boake, Duggan and Orr were regular competitors who brought honour to the club.

In recent years the Carlow Rowing Club has recorded numerous successes in National and International competitions. The Carlow Rowing Club's regatta is heralded by its colourful and well designed posters all over Carlow. The Rowing Club premises are still beside the River Barrow. The spirit of the founding members still lives on although the clubs Colours have changed from the original blue and white to green and white

The River Barrow provided an excellent venue for the setting up of a Rowing Club in the county. However races and regattas had taken place in private boat-houses prior to establishment of the rowing club in circa 1860. The Carlow Rowing Club is still competing at all levels.



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