A BRIEF HISTORY
“We’re the first in the field and the last to yield. We’re the boys of rare Clonmel.”
Clonmel Rowing Club was established in 1869 on the Eastern End of Moore’s Island by a group of local boating enthusiasts. It still occupies the same site today. To generations of Clonmel people it is affectionately known as ‘The Island’. An iconic timber Clubhouse painted with blue and white diagonal stripes was built in the late 1880’s. As the years went by it was extended to accommodate racing boats until it burnt down in the 1980’s.
The club is one of the oldest sporting clubs in the town of Clonmel and on the River Suir. Prior to the First World War, the 1880’s and 1890’s had been very successful years for the club on the rowing scene. After the First World War the club achieved its first Eights Championship (The Big Pot) win under the Irish Amateur Rowing Union rules in 1920. It also won the famous Leander Trophy at Cork City Regatta.
During the 1920/30’s, the club expanded its activities to include tennis, putting, bowling, croquet, athletics and pleasure boating. Swimming became a major feature of the club activities. The Annual Regatta became part of the Irish Rowing calendar, attracting crews and swimmers from around the country.
A day off for the regatta.
This necklace locket is understood to have been a prize at the 1872 Clonmel Regatta which would have been held on a week day. Local business would have given their workers a day off such was the occasion.
Big Pot Winners
Clonmel Mens Eight won the big pot in 1920. There would have been the main trophy allocated to the club for a year. Each crew member would have received an individual cup also. A picture of M.J. Beary's who rowed at six cup is shown. The cups were made in Silver by West & Son.
After the Second World War the club had a chequered existence with tennis and pleasure boating coming to the fore as rowing declined. However, it had a brief revival in the late 50’s with Clonmel winning the Blue Riband at Dublin’s Metro Regatta in 1958. Sadly, the club closed during the 60’s and was not revived until a group of local businessmen and former members re-established the club to celebrate its Centenary in 1969. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and establishing itself as a successful rowing club at national and international level. The Annual Regatta became a feature of Clonmel’s sporting life in the 1970’s. During this time the Boathouse was refurbished, new top of the range racing boats purchased, a new slipway was built and swimming and diving became part of the club’s activities. A Maiden IV Championship was won in 1975 and victories were recorded at major National Regattas. Ladies and schoolgirl rowing was introduced with great success and the Island became the social mecca of the town.
Our anniversary year was a special occasion. We made several improvements to the premises. We released a bespoke Cider and Apple Juice set. We had a very enjoyable anniversary event dinner and we released some 150th anniversary celebration clothing.
In 1979 a new modern Club and Boathouse was opened and squash was introduced. Frank Kent was the driving force behind the revival and success of the club in those years. The club’s first Junior Schoolboy Four Championship was won in 1980. The first green jersey for the club was gained by this crew.
During the 1980/90’s the Club had many successful rowing achievements with rowers representing Ireland at the Home International, the World Rowing Championships and the Coupe de la Jeunesse regattas. Clonmel was honoured when Tom Fennessey was elected President of the Irish Amateur Rowing Union in 1996. Tom served in office until 2002.
In the new millennium the club has continued its winning ways, achieving numerous Irish Championships and winning a second eights championship since 1920 in the Junior Women’s eight in 2005. Squash has declined and the courts are now used as gymnasiums.
In recent years Dragon Boating, with the establishment of the Dragon Paddlers, has become a welcome feature of club activity on the river. It has also helped to broaden the membership base.
In 2016 Daire Lynch pulled of a fantastic individual treble, winning the men's Junior, Club and Intermediate Men’s Single Scull National Championships and in 2017 pulling off a double hearer in the Intermediate mens single scull and Intermediate men's double scull with Matt Dundon his partner in that event . Matt Dundon in 2017 became our second gold medal winner of the Coupe de la Jeunesse event joining Conor Fennessey who won gold in the coxed four in 1992.
In the 2010's alone Clonmel won six national rowing championships bringing the grand total to fifteen by 2019.
In the time of COVID19 Daire Lynch won a Gold medal at the European Under 23 Championship held in September that year in the Men's double scull.
In the Summer of 2021 Clonmel won their first senior championship since 1920 with Daire Lynch winning the men's Senior Scull Championship in spectacular fashion.
Rowing must be the main objective of Clonmel Rowing Club and as we pass our 150th anniversary a renewed focus on the future is being planned.
Under 23 European Championships
Daire Lynch studying in Yale and a Clonmel rower with Ronan Byrne of UCC taking the Gold medal at the Under 23 European championships held at the Duesburg Regatta course Germany in September 2020.