THE CORRIB ROWING AND YACHTING CLUB
by Tom Kenny
This club, originally established in 1864, must be one of the oldest in Galway, if not one of the oldest amateur sporting clubs in the country. Unfortunately, the minutes of the club meetings for 1864 and 1865 cannot be found, but we are fortunate that Maurice Semple had access to the minutes for most other years and published them in a book entitled A Century of Minutes, the Story of the Corrib Club, 1864 – 1966.
The inauguration of the club took the form of ‘a rowing match’ between W. and P. Daly in one boat and a Mr. Hasler and Robert Evans in the other. ‘A respectable assemblage thronged the banks on either side and all present seemed very much interested in the contest’. The clubhouse was already in existence and on that inaugural day, a large number of young gentlemen of Galway gathered there for the occasion. Their first meeting was a success and the committee felt confident that the members would find “The manly sport of rowing to be both pleasurable and profitable”.
Until 1875, when the Commercial Club opened, competitive rowing on the river was confined to club members. Thereafter, ‘badge races’ were held regularly between the clubs which helped generate a lot of interest in the sport. The course for those races was from the black buoy opposite Steamer’s Quay to the ‘Iodine Works’ and back, three buoys moored at the upper end. The racing boats were classified as pair-oared, four-oared, sculls, gigs and skiffs.
The development of steam navigation on the Corrib required a navigation channel on the river and on the lake and this enabled members to row and sail freely. Sailing was becoming an increasingly important sport and source of leisure in the club. Membership was growing and this necessitated a search for another site. In 1903, Mr. Persse presented them with the present site and the new clubhouse was formally opened in July 23, 1904. The following year, they spent £6-6-0 on the purchase of two guns from the Renmore Battery for the ornamentation of the grounds. The concrete base for the guns cost £6-15-0.
In 1912, ladies were admitted as members. In 1916, there was no audit of account as the secretary, John Faller was interned by the British. During the War of Independence, some British Army units occupied the clubhouse.
By 1931, the club had a ladies rowing crew who were very successful for a number of years, in fact, for four years they were unbeaten. The crew members were Misses L. Horan (bow), S. Pringle (2), M. Delaney (3) and M. Caulfield (cox) and May Kenny (stroke). In 1936 the club had a senior eight, two senior fours, a junior four, a ladies four, schoolboy’s four and three scullers in regular training. It was a very auspicious year for the men’s senior eight crew who won the Leander trophy in Cork, the first crew from west of the Shannon to do so. Our photograph shows that crew, they are Michael Gallagher (captain), R.J. O’Connell, Enda Emerson, B.J. Kavanagh, Roly Cooke, Enda Glynn, T.F. Morris, Amby Roche and B.J. O’Connell.
In 1956, it was ruled that a male club member could take a lady friend into a club boat, but a lady member could not take a male friend into a club boat. In the 1950s and 1960s, they held regular fund-raising dances. In the 1990s, the clubhouse which we see in our photograph (which was taken c.1900) was demolished and the present structure erected on the site.