Rowing fundraiser for homeless

Pictured: Rowing crew on the anna.

Pictured: Rowing crew on the anna.

The inaugural All In a Row – Helping Homeless 500km Challenge brought pageantry and colour to the river capital on Saturday, November 26, in a show the likes of which has never been seen before on the waters of the Liffey.

For the first time ever, the vibrant Liffey boating community came together to organise a rowing event to help alleviate homelessness in Ireland. Their chosen beneficiary this year was Focus Ireland.

Skiffs, wild water canoes, kayaks, currachs and some very colourful dragon boats with their large crews and drumming coxswains took part this in unique event.

The first boats on the water left St Patrick’s Rowing Club, Ringsend, at 8am, to make their way upriver as far as Heuston Bridge and back to the pontoons of St. Patrick’s, where they switched crews.

Throughout the day, more than 30 boats and up to 160 rowers took part in the challenge. They were joined by a number of support boats and pleasure craft.

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) had barges on the water, to support the rowers and to provide some extra colour. The recently-refurbished No 11 Ferry, the last working ferry in Dublin, which was used in the past to bring dockers to and from work, made an appearance, much to the delight of the many Dubliners who lined the banks of the river to shout encouragement to the participants.

Crews came from the many rowing clubs which are based all along the Liffey and the east coast to play their part.

Pictured: Rowing boats on the River Liffey.

Pictured: Rowing boats on the River Liffey.

Ashley Balbirnie, Chief Executive of Focus Ireland, said, “We do have a crisis of homelessness which needs special actions. We’re seeing a great example of one here today. No matter what way you cut it, over 1,000 families and over 2,000 children will be homeless this Christmas.” He went on to thank organisers of the event and the clubs taking part for their support.

This event is the brainchild of one man, David Kelly. Working on a voluntary basis to distribute food and clothing to the homeless of central Dublin, Kelly wanted to do more. He approached his many friends and colleagues in the rowing community for help. All were enthusiastic about getting involved and agreed to pull together to help the homeless this Christmas.

Kelly has previously been successful in his mission to reintroduce currach rowing to the waters of the Liffey and is the organiser of the annual Dublin Currach Racing Regatta. He was delighted with the turnout, and praised the participating clubs for their support saying: “It looks like a huge success. Let’s make it bigger and better next year. Thank you to all involved, particularly the Liffey Armada.”

The CWU Brass Band and a host of traditional musicians were on hand to provide entertainment. The organisers urged the public to keep the donations for this very worthy cause coming in. You can donate on the Focus Ireland website or seek out the tagline #allinarow on social media.

By Jennifer Reddin