"It is devastating news. Our heart goes out to the families and to the village," said Emily Ross of Castleconnell Boat Club after she had learned of the death of a man who had been in one of the club's launches which capsized in the flooded Shannon in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The boat was a small safety launch taken without authorisation. It did not have an engine attached and the men got into trouble quickly on the swollen river. Because of the severe flooding, the club has not been able to put crews on the river for months.
There was four feet of water in the boathouse at World’s End: the ergometers had to be floated out; sewage has risen; the electrical goods have been badly damaged. “It all pales into insignificance compared to this news,” Ross said.
One of the men who led the difficult rescue mission was well-known adventurer Mike Jones. He has kayaked around Ireland and was part of the six-person crew who rowed across the Atlantic in a then record time in the Sara G in 2010.
On his Facebook site, Jones said of the rescue: “After almost 10 years as a coastguard volunteer I can safely say this was one of the toughest shouts I have ever responded to.”
The tragic news will cast a pall, but rowing activity continues in the week ahead. The Cork head of the river has drawn a good entry on Saturday. UCC has entered two men's senior eights, and Shandon one, while the new record holder in indoor rowing, Cathal Cummins of Lee Valley, is one of 18 entries in the men's junior 18 section.
The first of two weekends of junior trials begins with testing for Leinster, Connacht and Ulster aspirants at Lough Rynn.
The World Junior Championships are being held alongside the senior non-Olympic events and the Under-23 Championships in Rotterdam this year, making it more likely that Ireland will field a crew or crews.
Off the water, the Women’s Coaching Workshop in Naas on Friday has sparked considerable interest. Rowing has a strong representation of women competitors, but relatively few women coach. Part of the aim of this forum is to allow for discussion on how to change this.