C’mon the Paddys!

By Louise Whelan

Images: John Doyle and Louise Whelan

St Patrick’s Rowing Club is one of the oldest skiff clubs on the River Liffey (1935/36).  This club is steeped in a rich history, dating back several decades and still has the same vision, values and leadership that the founding members lived by.  These members were all connected to the docks; they were dockers, checkers and stevedores so they had a great team spirit and impeccable work ethic, and these strong principles still live on in the club today.

Just some of the trophies won

As a club, all the crews have done extremely well with races over the years.  Members have won numerous awards, both national and international, the most recent being the new Senior Men crew who are amazing athletes and the most successful, by remaining unbeaten for the whole year on the East Coast with 9 out of 9 races conquered, and also winning two All-Ireland gold medals.  What makes it even more special is that it’s probably 20 years or so since a crew has achieved that kind of victory. Five crews in total participated in the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships in Dingle, Co Kerry with the U16 boys, Novice Men A, Junior Women, Senior Women and Senior Men who all took home many medals.

The Junior Men won the Row the Rock Challenge 2023 in August, a 15km distanced row around Rockabill Island which was hosted by Skerries Rowing Club and also won the Boyne boat race which started in Clogher Head and ended in Drogheda port, while the Novice Ladies took home the gold in a race they dominated.  John Doyle, a member of the club got an award in Dingle for his recognition of over 45 years of rowing at the highest level in coastal rowing, presented to him by Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, not to mention the club winning a Pride of Place award and Best Sports Club, amongst others.  This is just a snippet of all the competitions, races and accolades that the club has competed in and received.

This rowing club is back on top, and after a few lull years, they started to build up to reach their full potential with a solid tight crew, the help of all the coxswains, the coaches, the mentors and that inner grit that takes your game to the next level.

They operate an open door policy and are a very welcoming club with no experience necessary, just a willingness to compete and have fun in the process.  Kids as young as nine years old can join and they learn by watching the other rowers and also the guidance and training that they receive from the coaches is vital for their sporting growth. A lot of the kids have parents who row so they would have grown up with the basic knowledge instilled in them, something they can build on that keeps the motivation going.


From April to September is the rowing season so usually after St Patrick’s Day it’s all go in the club, getting the boats ready, getting into training which is usually five nights a week and that entails working out in the club using indoor rowing machines, the gym and running.  Individual crews can set up their own workout programme.  Fitness is very important with this sport as you need strength, endurance and stamina.  Crew Class is the most complete physical and mental workout, founded by Niall O’Toole and the members of the club can use these rowing machines for the benefits of getting a complete total body training session.

St Patrick’s Rowing Club competed in seven out of nine regattas this year.  Due to the nature of the East Coast Rowing, it all depends on the weather as the sea can be unpredictable and unsafe to row in, and two regattas had to be cancelled because of that.  They host their own annual Ringsend regatta in the summer and it is always a fun day out for families, friends and neighbours.

When the season is over, the boats go to the workshop to get refurbished and repainted as wooden boats need to be looked after.  New oars also get made during winter so the club is still very busy even at off-peak.

The club gets involved in charity events after the rowing season, they host All in a Row in December every year which the chairman, Mr Philip Murphy calls it an ‘odyssey on the Liffey’. They have run fundraising events which have raised tens of thousands of euros for charitable causes. They run corporate days, open days for recruiting new members, team bonding days and the local St Patrick’s BNS school regatta, along with the Brian Murphy Memorial Cup within the club with an inter club race, mixing up the crews and the winners receiving the bittersweet prize.

They also hosted one of the challenges on RTÉ’s Ireland’s Fittest Family which was a wonderful and exciting experience for the club.

All this would not be possible without the dedication of the steadfast committee who make all the significant decisions and pull together, keep it going and put in so much time, energy and effort into the club.  The volunteers, helpers, people who work on the boats, and behind the scenes who keep the club ticking over are the unsung heroes and their commitment and enthusiasm is much appreciated and doesn’t go unnoticed.  The club also wouldn’t be able to function without the support of Dublin Port Company who sponsors the kit and they are so grateful for their continuous help and assistance.

Pierce Murphy; John Doyle; Philip Murphy, Chairman; David Doyle; Derek Boland

Next year, it seems the club will be getting demolished due to a proposed link road to a new bridge between the existing clubhouse and the jetty so a brand new rowing club will be built and relocated. This will lead to a more modernised and up to date facilities which will give the club a new lease of life going forward as they have many more plans, goals and aspirations for the foreseeable future.

St Patrick’s Rowing Club’s reputation has been enhanced by the recent success of the club and its positive influence shows how driven and passionate each member is with the aim to go higher and train harder and that kind of mental outlook is a sure fire way to accomplishment and triumph.

To get in touch with the club, you can contact them on the website and social media pages. They are always looking for new members, young and old so if this floats your boat (pardon the pun!), just reach out.

Many thanks to Philip Murphy (Chairman), John Doyle, Derek Boland, Pierce Murphy and David Doyle for their input.