Resting on one’s oars: Garda Boat Club marks big wins
Islandbridge event recalls club’s prestigious win at Henley Royal Regatta in 1975
The Garda Boat Club website showing its premises at Islandbridge. Although the club was founded in 1954, it was 1955 before the club put its first boat in the water - and its first win in competition that year was recalled at the weekend Islandbridge event.
Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames in July 1975: “We were up against Quintin from London in the final and it was tight enough but we won by a length - that was probably the most prestigious win ever by the [Garda Boat] club so it was great to be involved,” said Willie Ryan.
The Garda junior crew beating the senior crew in the 1965 Senior VIII Championship held at Blessington. “There was a great rivalry with the senior crew but there was a great friendship as well and of course the friendships are enduring - they never go away,” said Pat Millea, who was on the junior crew.
The first Garda crew in 1955 and their trophies. Standing, left to right are Joe O’Driscoll, Gerry McDonagh, Paddy Prendergast, Jim Maguire (Capt), Mick Harty, Tom Brennan, Con Flannery (secretary). Seated left to right are Tom Casey, John Killian, Brendan O’Connor (cox), Brendan O’Sullivan, Joe Callinan.
The Garda Boat Club marked a series of significant anniversaries at its annual rowing championships over the weekend.
Although founded in 1954, it was 1955 before the club put its first boat in the water – and its first win in competition that year was recalled at the Islandbridge event.
Tom Casey (83), from the 1955 team, recalled how they won the junior championship that year. This proved the making of the club, which has gone on to score some notable successes over the years.
“I was stationed in Dublin and I didn’t know one end of the boat from the other. I knew nothing about rowing – none of us did – but through sheer strength and brute ignorance we made a go of it.
“We won the junior championship in only our second time rowing and it proved a solid foundation for the club,” said Mr Casey, who was born in New York but grew up in Tournafulla in west Limerick.
Pat Millea (74), a member of the 1965 group honoured for becoming the first Garda crew to win the National Senior VIII Championship, recalled how they captured the title on Blessington Lake.
“There was a great rivalry with the senior crew but there was a great friendship as well, and of course the friendships are enduring – they never go away,” said Mr Millea, a native of Ballyhale in Co Kilkenny.
Also honoured on the night was arguably the most successful Garda crew ever – the 1975 team that won international regattas in Ghent in Belgium and Nottingham before their greatest triumph.
Willie Ryan (61), from Darrara near Clonakilty in west Cork, recalled how they came through an international field of 32 entrants to win the Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames in July 1975.
“We rowed in Henley in 1974 and got to the semi-final before we were beaten, but we went back in 1975 with the same team and we won the first four races as the field was whittled down from 32.
“We were up against Quintin from London in the final and it was tight enough, but we won by a length – that was probably the most prestigious win ever by the club so it was great to be involved.”