With the clinking of oars and the rhythmic movement of the traditional skiff gliding through the water – St Michael’s Rowing Club of Dún Laoghaire are now back out on the water enjoying their first row of the season on Monday evening.
Members have been busy during lockdown while waiting for the restrictions to ease to get back out on the water, with participation in the Ocean to City Virtual Challenge 2020 in early June. Massimo De Luca got 1st male and 1st veteran and Gareth Whittington winning 1st male team in a tough race competing against competitors across Europe.
Furthermore, some members competed in the first British Rowing Virtual Championships against 1200 entries from 30 different nations, with brilliant efforts from Dave Cullen who got 7th in the Men’s A final and 10th in the 2000m and Martin Dowd came in 8th in the 500m and Gareth Whittington winning his final.
And while their annual St. Michael’s Regatta was cancelled this year due to COVID, they have their renowned annual Hobblers Challenge rowing race to look forward to on the 12th September 2020 with two courses – the 18km and the 27km distances. Along with traditional skiffs, this year the race will be opened up to Celtic Longboats (Welsh design), and Celtic Yawls (‘All Ireland’ one design).
Skiff rowing in Dún Laoghaire, in common with other East Coast Rowing Clubs, is passed on from the hobblers of old. The hobbler men rowed fishing and pilot boats in Dún Laoghaire Harbour and all around the east coast. They rowed much bigger and heavier boats than the present day skiffs. In the early 1900s, the hobblers of Dún Laoghaire Harbour and elsewhere along the coast were starting to decline as a result of steam and motor engines.
In the early 1920s many of these hobblers and ex-hobblers formed St. Michael’s Rowing Club. Today the vibrant rowing club is made up of all ages and walks of life, from complete beginners to experienced rowers, enjoying coastal rowing in traditional skiffs based in the Coal Harbour in Dún Laoghaire, rowing in the wonderful surroundings of Dún Laoghaire and further beyond to Scotsman’s Bay, the Forty Foot and Dalkey Island.