Over the years, rowing has had its highs and lows in Cork Harbour, where the history of the sport on Leeside as the River Lee wends its way from the city towards the harbour mouth, can be traced to the founding of the Cork Harbour Rowing Club in Glenbrook.
That is one of three closely-linked harbourside communities, situated between the town of Passage West and the village of Monkstown, both of which have followed the rowing tradition, even though the Glenbrook Club no longer exists.
Even though it is no longer in existence, the 160th anniversary of its founding will be celebrated this Saturday with the marking of the ‘Passage of Time” at Passage West, when the town’s Rowing Club hosts ‘The Middle Harbour Race.’
“Today, the sport is stronger than ever in our harbour with three river clubs, six coastal clubs and a very active currach scene. Saturday will see boats of all descriptions take to the water to celebrate the history of rowing in the harbour,” Laura O’Mahony of the Passage Club told me.
Racing will begin at 11 a.m. and include the Fr. Mathew Challenge for currachs, the Captain Mackey Challenge for kayaks; the Ringmahon House Challenge, for FISA/one designs; the Lough Mahon Challenge 3km sprint and a very special 3-mile race for the Middle Harbour Cup.
"The town of Passage West will be en fete on Saturday when rowing will be the dominant harbour sport"
The year after its foundation, the Cork Harbour Rowing Club held its inaugural regatta when its crew rowed a three-mile race in 18 minutes. That record remains unbroken to this day. The crew which set that, so far unbeaten record was: A. Stamers, E. Minehear, P. Power, T. Boland and Charles J. Leahy, the coxswain).
The Middle Harbour Challenge Cup race will recall the setting of that record and it will be interesting to see if it can be beaten.
The town of Passage West will be en fete on Saturday when rowing will be the dominant harbour sport.
Along with the races, there will be shoreside entertainment. This will include a special exhibition in Passage West Maritime Museum adjacent to the quayside about the history of Cork Harbour rowing; a market of locally-produced crafts and goods, a ‘Picnic in the Park’ and the Cobh Animation Team demonstrating clothing worn back in 1859 when the Cork Harbour club was founded.
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