More Irish Rowing

HTBS’s Tim Koch writes from London:

I much enjoyed Greg Denieffe’s piece Royal Visits Benefit Irish Rowing, which was posted yesterday on HTBS. The 1902 film featured was a brave effort but the ever reliable British Pathe website (which has over fifty years of cinema newsreels to view online) has some much better film of Dublin’s Metropolitan Regatta in the inter-war years, including some rare shots of women’s crews.

This claims to be the Metropolitan in 1926. It is a very nice film but I do not think it is the Met. If it is Newry in the north of Ireland it would be the river Clanrye.


The 1931 Regatta is here and includes more lovely ladies. Similar shots of the 1932 Regatta are here.

Nothing to do with the Metropolitan, but Pathe has a nice 1922 film of ‘Dolhin Rowing Club’, Dublin. I can find no reference to ‘Dolhin’, is this a misprint?

Rowing, like rugby football, is an ‘All Ireland’ sport. The Irish Amateur Rowing Union (IARU) includes the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Having said this, I get the impression that the Ulster (i.e. Northern Irish) Branch likes to assert itself.

Like its sister organisations in Great Britain, the IRAU has re-branded itself ‘Irish Rowing’. The Scottish Amateur Rowing Association is now ‘Scottish Rowing’ and the Welsh Amateur Rowing Association is ‘Welsh Rowing’ or, in the Welsh language, ‘Rhwyfo Cymru’. You may suppose that this means that the governing body of the sport in England (formerly the original ‘Amateur Rowing Association’) is ‘English Rowing’. You would be wrong, it is ‘British Rowing’. What is wrong with that? ‘Britain’ is England and Wales. ‘Great Britain’ is England, Wales and Scotland. It must be admitted that ‘Britain’ is often used when, strictly speaking, ‘Great Britain’ would be correct. However this is not as bad as saying ‘England’ when (Great) Britain would be correct.

A good illustration of unintentional English arrogance occurred when I and the rest of the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club from London went to the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, for the 5 km Head of the Lagan in 2000. Irish hospitality is famous, as our hosts at Belfast Rowing Club proved. We began to suspect that their generosity was a plot to fatten us up so we could barely row. Despite a freak snowstorm, a few cases of Guinness poisoning and one case of possible potato blight we managed to win a couple of things and were treated to a farewell dinner in the club house. A great evening was had by all and our Captain gave a generous speech of thanks. This went well until he began to lament the fact that British crews rarely come to Ireland ‘from the mainland’. Ireland, rightly, does not regard itself as an ‘island off Great Britain’ and the cries and heckles that followed were good natured but emphatic. An insight into the problems of Anglo-Irish relations.

[Without getting in to too much politics, but Tim forgot another ‘problem’, the British Isles, which we in the Swedish schools were taught – long ago – was the same as the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ and ‘Ireland’, which there is a dispute about. G.R.B.]


  1. The late great Michael Flanders commented: “The rule is, if we have done something good, it is 'Another Triumph for Great Britain'. If we haven't, it's 'England Loses Again'.”

  2. Tim, I do not think that the 1926 video was taken in Newry. It looks like Islandbridge to me; I think the slip is in front of Trinity's boathouse and you can see the weir in a few shots. The regatta finish is just before Trinity, which is in the south side with all the other clubs on the opposite side. Dublin Met' has had a few homes; Ringsend, Islandbridge and now Blessington.

    The 1922 video is of Dolphin Rowing Club at their boathouse on the mouth of the river Dodder just where it joins the Liffey down in Ringsend in Dublin's docklands. You can see the boathouses of the other Dublin Clubs before they followed Trinity up to Islandbridge. Dolphin's strip of “Red and White Hoops” was quite distintive. Sadly they closed their doors in 1941 and the premises were sold to Sandymount Boxing Club.

    I have in in collection a silver cigarette case won by W. H. Chambers (cox) of the Dolphin crew that won the Boyne Challenge Cup at the Boyne Regatta (Drogheda) in 1899. This was the first regatta held under the rules of the new IARU.

    I also have a 9ct gold medal (yes gold!) from the Dolphin Rowing Club, Ringsend, Club Fours 1923 – won by T. H. Daly. A nice prize for an “At Home” regatta held during very difficult times in Ireland.

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