As most locals are aware, Athlone Boat Club, has been an accomplished sporting organisation involved in active rowing participation since the 1800s.
Originally located where the Luan Gallery stands today, the clubhouse, which is presently undergoing transformation, moved to its present location in 1897
In 1966, through the tenacity and determination of the boat club committee, the galvanised shed was knocked to the ground and a new clubhouse was born.
First, on the agenda for the then committee was to raise money to help build a concrete block boat house, they did so by selling a block (yes, the idea dates back that long ), at a cost of 25p per block. As a result, the shell of the clubhouse was built, but little else, so the committee, together with their families and friends, united and used their professional skills to complete the job. The first call of duty was to put a roof on the building and everything else followed suit.
Once the clubhouse was completed in 1967, the club members went from strength-to-strength, with successes around the country. The introduction of ladies rowing in 1970 was wholly successful for the club, but it was four more years before they could become full members, at which time, they were able to compete in regattas. The club has never looked back securing success after success for both juniors and masters on national and international levels.
Now, some 55 years later, the Athlone Boat Club facilities had fallen into disrepair due to age, damage from the many floods it endured over the years, but most importantly, the building was no longer big enough or safe enough to accommodate in excess of 100 members.
With the help of grants from LEADER, Sports Capital Funding and club fundraising, the club were able to start the new clubhouse construction project which sits in seamlessly with its surroundings on the banks of the river Shannon, but as in 1966, Athlone Boat Club have fallen short of being able to complete the building.
The calendar year 2020 proved a very challenging year for the club, along with many others throughout the country with relevant fundraising efforts badly impacted. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, they were unable to host their ever popular annual regatta, which would positively impact the club’s finances.
Presently, the club has a shortfall of approximately €70,000 and are in much need of finance to help them complete the construction of a safe building, not only for our existing members, but for many years to come.
In addition, they are going to incorporate adaptive rowing for the young people of the local community with special needs. Adaptive rowing is about removing sporting participation barriers. These goals come at a price, however, the club is determined to become an all inclusive sporting organisation.
To enable completion of the clubhouse construction and deliver the dream of a new multi-purpose sporting facility for all members, the club is calling upon the local community for further financial support.
The Boat Club is the proud owner of the O’Donovan Brothers’ Olympic Boat, used by the Skibbereen siblings to win a silver medal in Rio 2016.
They are selling tickets, priced €20,on their website, www.athloneboatclub.ie, and the winning prize is indeed a unique one.
The winner will garnish the honour of having their name inscribed on the Olympic boat and be a part of Irish history. It is not just an online fundraiser, any club member will gladly accept cash and enter your name to win this once off very special prize.
Athlone Boat Club are grateful for the support and generosity received to date in their quest to bring a new, advanced and safe build to fruition for all and for many years to come.