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Cong to Galway Dinghy Race is Not for the Faint-Hearted

17th August 2020
A variety of dinghy types complete what is the longest race on inland waterways in Europe and the oldest such race in Ireland is a great achievement A variety of dinghy types complete what is the longest race on inland waterways in Europe and the oldest such race in Ireland is a great achievement

John Barry, Secretary of Galway Bay Sailing Club, is quite right! Racing down the Corrib from Cong to Galway is "not for the faint-hearted."

There are plenty of challenges and obstacles along the route. From my own experience, the Cong to Galway Race is both highly competitive and a special maritime occasion, with a great variety of scenery as boats speed down the Upper and Lower Loughs, that's if the crews have time to notice it!

To complete what is the longest race on inland waterways in Europe and the oldest such race in Ireland is a great achievement. It once rivalled the equine Galway Races!

As Afloat reported previously, next Saturday, August 22, it's due to be held again, the 137th race. Four Galway maritime clubs are organising it and Ashford Castle is involved, all connecting with the great maritime history of Galway and the Corrib, which there was once a plan to link with Lough Mask by a canal. The first canal in Ireland was cut in the 12th century. The Friar's Cut allowed boats to pass from Lough Corrib to the sea at Galway. Lough Corrib also had its own steamboat ferry services.

The Cong to Galway Race start is from Lisloughrey Pier in Cong, Co. Mayo and is scheduled for 10.30 a.m. on a course through Upper and Lower Lough Corrib to the finish line at Corrib Village on the River Corrib in Galway. Transport will be available to take participants from Galway to Lisloughrey for the start so that sailors can leave trailers and cars in Galway for recovery and transport after the event. The race will make a stop for lunch at Kilbeg Pier, approximately half ways, where timings will be taken for the restart.

If the weather forecast for Saturday indicates that the race cannot be run safely, it may be postponed until the same time on Sunday or another later date. A decision will be made, the organisers say, by midday on Friday. Covid 19 provisions relating to sailing will be in effect and entrants must also abide by the "Check, Clean and Dry" principles when transporting boats to and from Lough Corrib. Portsmouth Yardstick 2020 handicap numbers will apply.

John Barry is my guest on this week's Podcast, discussing the history of the Cong to Galway Race which dates back to 1882.

Listen to this week's Podcast below

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He also presents the radio programme Maritime Ireland on radio stations around Ireland.

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