Proud occasion for Athlone Boat Club as naming ceremony takes place

Athlone Boat Club members, Sinead Hensey and Padraig Hegarty are pictured with the ‘John Francis Waldron’ boat

Athlone Boat Club members, Sinead Hensey and Padraig Hegarty are pictured with the ‘John Francis Waldron’ boat

Athlone Boat Club held a small ceremony to bless and name one of their new boats on Sunday last.

During the year Athlone Boat Club hosted a very successful draw ‘The Rio Boat Naming Rights’, the first occasion in the club’s history that the public had the opportunity to buy a ticket to win the naming rights of a boat within their fleet.

The draw in question was offering the naming rights of the famous Rio Olympic 2016 double scull used by Paul and Gary O’Donovan. Paul Gallen, club treasurer, had purchased the boat and donated it to the club some years ago after the Olympics of 2016 and it has been in their fleet ever since, the boat being known to members as the ‘Rio’. Paul provided all in attendance with a brief history of the boat and how he came to purchasing the prized possession - the club is very thankful to Paul and his family for this kind donation.

The winner of this draw was in attendance with his father. Kenneth Waldron, son of well known John Francis Waldron, (Waldron menswear’s Athlone ) had travelled home from the United States this past week for a family wedding and was delighted that the club held the event on this weekend for him.

Club captain, Nick Friel, and club president, Paul Donovan, spoke of the great pride they had standing in the new boat house development with such a historical boat and the fact that a well known individual was chosen as the name for the ‘Rio’.

Both club members thanked all in attendance and welcomed the Waldron family into the history books of Athlone Boat Club. Club PRO, Padraig Hegarty, called upon Kenneth to provide everyone with the reason behind the name he selected.

“I was very moved by ‘Joe Rantz’, an American rower in the 1930s, who literally came from obscurity to achieve Olympic glory. His story ‘The Boys in the Boat’ truly inspired me and this was the name I had originally chosen.

“However, upon reflection, the most inspirational person in my life is my father John Francis Waldron and it is his name I wish to place on this historical boat,” Kenneth enthused.

Deacon Tony Larkin provided a traditional blessing of the boat and the new boat house, noting that it was an honour to have received the call from the club to provide this blessing. He blessed the boat with water from the Shannon and asked the small number of members and supporters to reflect on the passing of club member Mary O’Grady this past week during the blessing ceremony.

The Athlone Sub Aqua Club provided water safety for the event as the boat was placed on the water for it’s first voyage as the ‘John Francis Waldron’. The club hope to have an open day in mid-2022 and this will be offered out to the wider public who have supported them in recent years.


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