THE news that Donegal is to host the All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships in August 2016 is a welcome boost for the sport of rowing, tourism and the local economy.
The All-Ireland Rowing Championships is one of the biggest rowing events in Ireland with an estimated 2,700 competitors and similar number of spectators taking to the water over three consecutive days of rowing competition. The All Ireland will be held in the Lakeside Centre, Ballyshannon in 2016.
The championships were held this year in Waterville, County Kerry where the announcement was made last weekend that next year’s event will be held in Donegal.
This year’s event saw record numbers or rowers and spectators over the three days. The finals day on the Sunday was streamed live via internet link to more than 90,000 spectators worldwide and these numbers are expected to be even higher in 2016 for Donegal. The scale of this event has to be seen to be appreciated and the economic benefit to the local economy cannot be underestimated.
This year four Donegal teams attended the All Ireland in Kerry including Donegal Bay Rowing Club, Loughros Point Rowing Club, The Village Rowing Club and Inver Rowing Club with rowers from Killybegs Rowing Club making up the teams.
The competition this year had increased significantly but luckily Loughros Point Rowing Club men’s team managed to secure a great result coming second in the Open Classic Category on the first day of rowing in the Donegal Skiff, the first year this boat was rowed at the All-Ireland.
This category has proved fruitful for Donegal Rowers as this was the second year Donegal rowers achieved medals in this category. Loughros Point and Donegal Bay had youth teams competing again this year that all preformed really well most notable the Donegal Bay U21 girl’s team who finished 5th best in Ireland.
With the popularity of the rowing event increasing year on year, it was a great boost to the Donegal clubs attending this year’s event that Donegal Bay Rowing Club had been successful in its bid to host the 2016 championships in the Lakeside Centre in Ballyshannon.
The suitability of the Lakeside Centre had been accessed by the organisers many months in advance and they were very impressed with the facilities at the centre.
The announcement saw attending clubs immediately block book accommodation in Donegal Town, Ballyshannon and Bundoran providing a great boost to the local economy for 2016. It comes on the back of a detailed bid completed by the club with the assistance of Donegal County Council and Donegal Tourism Ltd namely Barney McLaughlin and Joy Harron, and their ongoing support in the production of a brochure, racing fixtures booklet and website www.donegalbayrowingclub.com
Joy Harron of Donegal Tourism Ltd said: “This event is a wonderful opportunity to showcase County Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way to those who attend and to give everyone a taste of the fantastic maritime activities, wonderful restaurants and pubs, quality accommodation, scenic beauty and much more here in Donegal. Once visitors have experienced Donegal, they will certainly tell friends and family and return again in the future”.
Donegal Bay Rowing Clubs bid to host the 2016 championships comes after detailed discussion with Donegal County Council, Donegal Tourism Ltd and the six local sitting councillors all of whom reside in rowing strongholds and see the benefit of such an event to the local economy.
The next step for the club will be to meet with local community group, town councils, business groups and local clubs to plan for 2016 to ensure the event is one of the best All-Irelands in many years and showcases all the best Donegal has to offer. The planning starts now as well as the training!