OpenHouse 2018: Limerick’s roofless Boat Club

Limerick boat club was among the many buildings that opened their doors to the public this past weekend as part of OpenHouse Limerick 2018.

Guiding the boat club tour were Regatta secretary Peter O’Brien, Captain Hannah Fitch and Super Coach Tony Tynne.

Founded in 1870, the boat club has gained numerous members, with over thirty regular adult recreational rowing members keeping the place afloat today.

Boat club member, Suzanna King, who joined two years ago after encouragement from a friend said: “Rowing gives you a different view of the city, you see it from a different perspective.”

L-R Peter O’Brien, Hannah Fitch, Tony Tynne. Photo: Maoilíosa Ní Loideáin, Limerick Voice

Peter O’Brien joined the boat club as his family before him were heavily involved in rowing.

“My grandfather rode in St. Michael’s, my father, my uncle, my cousins and mother rode in Shannon and I came down here in 1978 when I was 11,” he added.

Long standing member and coach Tony Tynne gave the group a brief history of the boat club.

The club’s first boat house was built in June 1870 at a cost of £225 and the slipway cost £48.

Photo: Maoilíosa Ní Loideáin, Limerick Voice

“Every year an annual report was published and printed with every trophy won that year, every member the year they joined, financial reports and this happened from 1870 to 1940, they are unbelievable records,” Tony said of Bruce Murray, secretary treasurer of the club for 50 years who kept exceptional records, and whose father and brother were founding members of the boat club.

“We entered this year’s open house Limerick to raise awareness for what we are doing, trying to rebuild and to gather momentum with the club,” said Captain Hannah Fitch.

Photo: Maoilíosa Ní Loideáin, Limerick Voice

In 2014, Storm Darwin tore the roof off of the boat house, resulting in €100,000 worth of damage and causing a decline in membership figures due to health and safety reasons.

“We are focusing on the recreational model as a way to rebuild, because of our circumstances we cannot have juniors here, without the roof, running water and electricity, we couldn’t have under 18’s here, health and safety wouldn’t allow us,” added Hannah.

The boat club have raised some money to repair the damage but still need an estimated €40,000 to complete repairs.  Work will begin on repairing the roof in the coming months.


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