St Pat’s celebrate 80 years

Pictured Above: St.Patrick's Rowing Club members. Photo by Devi Anna.

Pictured Above: St.Patrick’s Rowing Club members. Photo by Devi Anna.

St Patrick’s Rowing Club celebrated their 80th anniversary on Saturday, August 27th, with a champagne reception at the club followed by a Gala Ball in the Gibson Hotel.

Up to 140 members, friends and supporters of ‘the Paddys’ donned their finery for this black tie event, proving that nobody rocks formal wear quite like rowers at the end of the season!

Celebrations kicked off in the clubhouse at 6pm, where the current crop of competitors were delighted to welcome the club’s oldest member, Mick (Micko) O’Neill, who was present at the very first St Patrick’s regatta in 1936. Micko is held in high esteem by all the members past and present. A bench on the grounds near the clubhouse, which was dedicated to him on his 90th birthday in 2011, marks the valuable contribution he made to the club.

Following the champagne reception, the partygoers made their way on foot to the Gibson Hotel, where they enjoyed fine food followed by presentations and special awards.

The Chairman of the East Coast Rowing Federation, Charlie Dayman, was on hand to present winners with their East Coast medals for the year. Special awards were made to St Patrick stalwarts, Richie Saunders, David Cox and John Hawkins, to acknowledge the time and dedication that they give to the club and to keeping the tradition of rowing alive on the East Coast.

Phillip Murphy reminded current members of the club’s rich 80-year history. He spoke of trials faced by the club in the past, of times when they had only one boat on the moorings and no clubhouse, of going to regattas with waterlogged boats, of relocation and the disruption caused by construction of the East Link Bridge. He spoke of the clubhouse being “buried behind hoarding” for a time, during which they lost some of their momentum.

He thanked the former members, “some of whom are still with us and some who are gone but not forgotten,” for all their hard work and the huge contribution they made to the club. As a result of their efforts and the contributions of friends and sponsors, St Patrick’s has come from modest beginnings and grown into the successful club it is now, renowned throughout Ireland and the UK.

The clubhouse that stands today was built brick-by-brick by the members themselves in 1986 and further developed twelve years ago after a successful fundraising drive “making it easy for our rowers to race and win today, said Murphy.” When the hoardings came down, St Patrick’s rose “like a phoenix from the ashes” and returned to winning ways.

Murphy reminded those present that 2016 was another successful year during which they won 36 cups and innumerable medals. He said: “This year was one of our best years so far – not only measured on results but also in morale, atmosphere and camaraderie.” He finished on a high note, looking forward to next season when the club will once again open its doors to old members and new alike emphasising that “the future looks bright for the green and white.”

Pictured Above: Rowers do it sitting down. Dance, that is! Photo by Eimear McCormack.

Pictured Above: Rowers do it sitting down. Dance, that is!
Photo by Eimear McCormack.

With the formalities over, the revellers got down to some serious partying. John Doyle told NewsFour that the idea of walking to the hotel from the club came from celebrations of the club’s 75th anniversary because it “cuts out the need for buses and rounding people up at the end of the night and leaves everyone free to have a good time.” And have a good time they certainly did. With music from Gale Force and DJ Dave Dolan the ‘East Coast Dancing Champs’ rocked the Gibson until well into the night.

By Jennifer Reddin