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The Inland Navigations of Ireland Historical Society will hold its annual conference for 2023 on Saturday 25 March at the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland’s (IWAI) Dunrovin building at Coosan Point near Athlone.

Topics on the agenda include post-Covid updates for Ireland’s inland waterways from the IWAI and the Heritage Boat Association; the Waterways Ireland archive; the Barrow Navigation; and managing the archaeology of the Shannon.

Admission is €15 paid at the door (exact change in cash only). Tea/coffee and lunch will be provided — but bring a mug!

This conference is organised by IWAI Offaly in partnership with the IWAI, Heritage Boat Association and Waterways Ireland. The conference agenda is attached below.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland’s (IWAI) engagement with stakeholders to promote tourism on the inland waterways was cited as a key example recently during a Seanad debate on the hospitality sector.

Senator Aisling Dolan (Fine Gael) said that the IWAI “has brand new branches around the River Suck along the Beara-Breifne Way. It is trying to promote tourism along the waterways by working with Waterways Ireland and engaging with Fáilte Ireland.”

The senator noted this in the context of community and industry groups in more rural areas attempting to build bridges to develop their local tourism and hospitality offerings in the absence of chambers of commerce and other industry clout.

“We have community groups that have the clout. How can these community groups be supported in trying to promote tourism in their local areas?” she asked.

More on the Seanad debate from Wednesday 22 February can be found on KildareStreet HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
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June 25th 2022 will be an historic day for the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) with the official opening of its new Headquarters at Dunrovin, on the shores of Lough Ree, Coosan Point, Athlone.

IWAI HQ Dunrovin as the building will be known is co-located with the new RNLI permanent Lifeboat Station, recently commissioned. For the last six years, IWAI has worked with RNLI to deliver a strategic partnership project with the RNLI resulting in a permanent Lifeboat Station and an IWAI building on the site where IWAI was born in 1954.

Dunrovin is steeped in waterways history, being the spiritual home of IWAI. In 1997 Cynthia Rice, widow of Colonel Harry Rice and lifelong member of IWAI bequeathed Dunrovin the property and site to IWAI Athlone and the Association. As part of her Will, Cynthia’s bequest stated that the property should be “used in perpetuity as a clubhouse and meeting house for members”. Cynthia’s Will also mentioned the RNLI as an organisation close to her heart. She spent many years fundraising for the RNLI annually with her husband’s niece and close friend Rosemary Furlong, another lifelong member of the IWAI.

Dunrovin, was the summer house of Harry Rice and his first wife Beatrice Geoghegan, (fondly known as Peggy) and his daughter Betty (born 1924). Beatrice died in 1951. Two years later in 1953 Harry married Cynthia, his daughter’s best friend and for many years they lived in Dunrovin. It was here that Vincent and Ruth Delany and Harry and Cynthia Rice devised and hatched plans and a way forward in setting up the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, now almost 70 years old.

While Harry died in 1964, the property was used by his wife until her death in 1997. To safeguard the property over the intervening years, it was rented out to various tenants. The site was and is frequently used by several water-based sports clubs with the Athlone Boat Club holding their annual regatta at Dunrovin as their base. Athletes practicing for the Triathlon use the waterways directly in front of Dunrovin for their open water swim. IWAI Athlone held many branch meetings in the original dwelling that was the home of the Rice’s. Many active and committed members of IWAI Athlone gave their time and energy ensuring the property did not fall into disrepair and disuse. Over the years, it has remained a primary goal of the Association to honour and carry out Cynthia’s wishes. Now, twenty-five years later, the Association has fulfilled her wishes and has done justice to her very generous bequest and honouring Athlone’s, the Shannon’s, and Ireland’s inland waterways heritage.

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is a voluntary body representing over 3,500 enthusiasts, with 25 branches across the island of Ireland.

Published in Inland Waterways

This year’s Shannon Harbour Canal Boat Rally, which had been scheduled for 19-21 June, has been postponed over the coronavirus pandemic.

Ian Skelton, Hon Sec of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland’s Shannon Harbour branch and who confirmed the news, said it is hoped to have some sort of gathering in the rally’s stead later in the year if the situation improves.

This would have been the 49th edition of the rally, the running of which was taken over by Shannon Harbour IWAI two years ago.

Elsewhere, the Barrow Awards 2020 have been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, as reported by John Dimond of Barrow IWAI.

The award scheme promotes groups all along the River Barrow to focus on and improve their river frontage and acknowledges their efforts.

The awards have been supported by the county councils adjoining the Barrow, chaired by Eileen O’Rourke of Carlow County Council and with the backing of Waterways Ireland.

Published in Inland Waterways

In a statement to its members, the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) confirms that personal use of vessels for leisure purposes is now prohibited under the Government’s added restrictions on movement to combat Covid-19.

“All citizens on the island must now stay at home except in the most limited of circumstances as determined by the governments in both jurisdictions,” said the preservation group for all of Ireland’s working inland waterways navigations.

Following the Taoiseach’s address to the nation last night (Friday 27 March), the IWAI also emphasises that “face-to-face meetings, such as branch meetings, must be postponed” until at least after Easter Sunday.

“Where branch committees wish to continue to perform their duties, this can only be done using technology to manage meetings rather than face-to-face … All planned indoor gatherings must be postponed.

“All outdoor gatherings are banned, therefore all cruises in company, rallies and work parties must be postponed.”

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland has cancelled its Council Meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 7th.

IWAI President Alan Kelly has advised that due to the increased risk posed by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and that cases of Coronavirus have now been
confirmed North, South, East and West it has been decided to cancel the IWAI Council meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 7th.

The IWAI says it is keeping the situation 'under review' and a decision made about the AGM (scheduled for April 25) at a later date.

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The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is ringing in the New Year with the launch of its 2020 Big Cruise calendar of events on the inland waterways of the Green & Silver route.

A flotilla of light and fast boats set off at pace on the River Liffey from the sea lock at Grand Canal Dock to Seán Heuston Bridge below Heuston Station this lunchtime (Wednesday 1 January) to kick off the 2020BC initiative.

The date also marks the 60th anniversary to the day the Grand Canal was closed to commercial traffic by CIÉ.

2020BC will centre around a calendar of waterside community celebrations and events to which boaters and other waterway users can travel next year.

This reflects the navigation circuit being very much ‘open for business’ for leisure, pleasure and amenity use.

The 2020BC project is being co-ordinated for IWAI Dublin by longtime waterways advocate Mick Kinahan with support from IWAI’s Kildare, Offaly, Shannon Harbour, Royal Canal and Barrow Branches.

Today’s flotilla also carries some offerings from the Grand Canal to Heuston Station — symbols from locations along the canal’s length, of both past and present commercial and leisure activities.

Little known outside the boating community, the Grand Canal is also part of what is known as the Green & Silver: a navigation route comprising the Royal Canal, Camlin River, River Shannon, Grand Canal and River Liffey — and one that the IWAI is keen to promote during 2020BC and beyond.

IWAI president Alan Kelly said: “We are fortunate in IWAI to have experienced volunteers who are fully committed to the promotion of our waterways for the common good and the socio-economic benefit of all.

“We also have an excellent working relationship with Waterways Ireland and with Government departments, local authorities, development associations and community organisations all along the inland waterways network.

“We look forward to 2020 being a year of further positive engagement with all of our waterways partners to promote the development and improvement of our waterways.”

Jim O’Riordan, IWAI Dublin chairperson, added: “IWAI Dublin look forward to 2020BC and are grateful for the support from our peer IWAI branches around the inland waterways network for the project.

“We also want to thank Waterways Ireland who have been involved in helping us plan today’s launch and events for the coming year; and Clontarf and Poolbeg yacht clubs among others who have assisted arrangements for the launch flotilla.

“For 2020BC, what we are promoting is not just about boating, we intend to work with as many communities as possible to develop their interests further in the inland waterways in their vicinities and look forward to meeting many new waterways friends.”

Full details of events for 2020BC will be made available on the IWAI website.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Dublin branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is working on plans for a rally this summer inspired by the Green & Silver route.

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Green & Silver by LTC Rolt, a book which recounted an influential voyage in 1946 from the Shannon to Dublin along the Grand Canal, then back to the Shannon via the Royal Canal, including a turn north to Lough Key and south again to Lough Derg.

The 356km inland waterways route has since become known as the ‘Green & Silver Challenge’ and has been championed by IWAI Dublin since the full navigation of the Royal Canal was reopened in 2010.

Now the Dublin branch is looking to encourage as many boats as possible to join the rally from this May “to show the canals are being used and not just a pretty water feature”.

A provisional date for boats heading to Dublin on the Royal Canal to meet at the 12th Lock in Castleknock has been set for Friday 3 May, with boats on the reverse route along the Grand Canal to meet at Lucan’s 12th lock on Friday 10 May.

Boats would converge on the River Liffey for a two-day rally on the weekend of 18-19 May, with boats heading out on the Grand Canal the following weekend (25-26 May) and on the Royal Canal the week after that (1-2 June).

Prizes are being commissioned for boats that have completed the trip several times, with more on this and confirmed dates for the rally to come from IWAI Dublin in the coming weeks.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) was honoured this week at the Irish Water Safety National Awards.

The Community and Social Responsibility Award was in recognition of the work by the association and its members in supporting Irish Water Safety’s community work and water safety in general on Ireland’s inland waterways.

The award was presented at Dublin Castle on Thursday 29 November by Seán Canney, Minister of State at the Department of Rural & Community Development.

IWAI president John Dolan, speaking after the presentation, noted that it was a great honour for him and honorary secretary Kay Baxter to receive such an award on behalf of all IWAI members both past and present for their work in this area.

Dolan also stated that he felt privileged and humbled to be present with so many other voluntary organisations, individuals and members of the rescue and security services who have given so much.

That includes those receiving Long-Service Volunteer Awards for teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide, and the rescuers who received recognition with the Just in Time Rescue Award in appreciation for saving so many lives in the past year. Irish Sailing also received an award for its support of Irish Water Safety's communuty work.

Echoing the minister’s speech at the awards, the IWAI agrees that it only takes seconds for tragedy to strike and this can so easily be avoided if people learn about the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety, including wearing lifejackets when on or near the water.

The IWAI is a voluntary body representing over 3,500 enthusiasts, with 23 branches across the island of Ireland.

Published in Water Safety

#Heritage - The Shannon Harbour Canal Boat Rally will go ahead this month, despite reports of its recent cancellation.

Afloat.ie has learned that a new voluntary group has taken over the hosting of the rally, after Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) Shannon Harbour branch chair Damien Buckley announced it would no longer be running.

Gerry Burke of the IWAI’s Lough Derg branch led the charge to maintain the tradition of the heritage event during the recent Jamestown Heritage Festival in Kildare.

It means 2018 will indeed mark the 47th edition of the Shannon Harbour Canal Boat Rally, which will take place over the weekend of Friday 15 to Sunday 17 June.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020

Tokyo 2021 Olympic Sailing

Olympic Sailing features a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. The programme at Tokyo 2020 will include two events for both men and women, three for men only, two for women only and one for mixed crews:

Event Programme

RS:X - Windsurfer (Men/Women)
Laser - One Person Dinghy (Men)
Laser Radial - One Person Dinghy (Women)
Finn - One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) (Men)
470 - Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women)
49er - Skiff (Men)
49er FX - Skiff (Women)
Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull

The mixed Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull and women-only 49er FX - Skiff, events were first staged at Rio 2016.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race, the individual or crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner.

During races, boats navigate a course shaped like an enormous triangle, heading for the finish line after they contend with the wind from all three directions. They must pass marker buoys a certain number of times and in a predetermined order.

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venues: Enoshima Yacht Harbor

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dates

Following a one year postponement, sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 23 July 2021 and run until the 8 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venue: Enoshima Yacht Harbour

No. of events: 10

Dates: 23 July – 8 August 2021

Tokyo 2020 Irish Olympic Sailing Team

ANNALISE MURPHY, Laser Radial

Age 31. From Rathfarnham, Dublin.

Club: National Yacht Club

Full-time sailor

Silver medallist at the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio (Laser Radial class). Competed in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/2018. Represented Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics. Laser Radial European Champion in 2013.

ROBERT DICKSON, 49er (sails with Seán Waddilove)

Winner, U23 49er World Championships, September 2018, and 2018 Volvo/Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year

DOB: 6 March 1998, from Sutton, Co. Dublin. Age 23

Club: Howth Yacht Club

Currently studying: Sports Science and Health in DCU with a Sports Scholarship.

SEÁN WADDILOVE, 49er (sails with Robert Dickson)

Winner, U23 49er World Championships, September 2018, and recently awarded 2018 Volvo Afloat/Irish Sailor of the Year

DOB: 19 June 1997. From Skerries, Dublin

Age 24

Club: Skerries Sailing Club and Howth Yacht Club

Currently studying International Business and Languages and awarded sports scholarship at TU (Technology University)

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