6 March 2018
Greg Denieffe wasn’t in Dublin for the recent Leander Club hooley but that didn’t stop him from raiding the Rowing Ireland and LC Facebook pages to bring HTBS readers news of an amazing gathering in the Fair City to celebrate Leander’s bicentenary where ‘There was work for the glass, for the knife and the fork’.
On Saturday 24 February, an exclusive dinner in Dublin gave the chance for Leander Club’s Irish members to celebrate the club’s milestone event.
The President of Rowing Ireland, Eamon Colclough, and Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan TD, were among the VIP guests at the Kildare Street and University Club, where more than 60 Leander members dined at the historic venue.
Leander had mooted the idea of a Dublin dinner early in its bicentenary planning, due to having such a strong membership on the other side of the Irish Sea. The event also gave the club the chance to showcase the Cork Cups, the magnificent trophies which have adorned the Leander dining room for more than 100 years.
The day began in the Senior Common Room, at Trinity College, Dublin, courtesy of Provost, Patrick Prendergast, where more than 75 senior members of Ireland’s rowing community heard historian and rowing commentator, Robert Treharne Jones give a presentation on the history of the Cork Cups.
Thanks to the support of Wilkins of Henley, which provided practical and financial help in getting the Cups to Dublin, two of the trophies were able to be returned to Ireland for the dinner, to be reunited with the Leander Galleon, a silver trophy which was first presented to Cork Regatta in 1904. Although the three trophies had been reunited on two previous occasions this was the first time it had occurred on Irish soil.
‘Given our historical support in Dublin, notably from University College Dublin and Trinity College, I should not have been surprised at the magnificent welcome that awaited us at the first of our dinners around the globe celebrating Leander’s bicentenary. The sight of the three magnificent Cork Trophies re-united in the presence of so many members and guests is one that I shall never forget,’ said Leander president Jeremy Randall.
For Dublin-based member, John Aiken, who was responsible for much of the event organisation with Leander General Manager Paul Budd, it was well worth the effort.
‘It simply exploded into a wonderful day and night, in the company of such warm and welcoming friends. Without doubt, the Cork Cups made it a unique and historic event, my thanks go to everyone who contributed to our success,’ he said.
Back in December 2014, HTBS published The International Cup at Cork Regatta 1902 – The Two Poem Regatta, a detailed account of the 1902 event. Shortly after its publication, it was out of date. I quoted two poems: “After The Groves of Blarney and The Cork Regatta” – the latter by “Tis” (R. C. Lehmann) published in Punch magazine on 23 July 1902. Lehmann had a second poem, “The Banks of the Lee”, published in Punch the following week (after the regatta) and so perhaps The Three Poem Regatta is a more appropriate title.
The Banks of the Lee
I met some good fellows a short time ago;
With the fire of true friendship their hearts were aglow;
And its oh but they took of good whiskey no end,
With a fist for a foe and a hand for a friend.
And my soul says “Here’s luck wheresoever they be
To the great men I met on the Banks of the Lee.”
Oh, their songs on the Lee (and its sweetly they sang),
How they went with a swing, and how they closed with a bang!
They toasted old Erin the brave and the gay,
Till the night faded out and behold it was day.
And at last – oh a louder I shall not hear soon
Came a forty-voice chorus with twenty in tune.
If ‘twas laughter you longed for or friendship you sought,
They were both to be had but they couldn’t be bought,
You were called on to pay – it was only in part
With a laugh of your own and a show of your heart
Oh this – and we gave it – is always the fee
That they ask for their love on the Banks of the Lee.
There was one a Chief Justice – he didn’t live there
But he came mighty grand from the County of Clare.
“Brother Andrews,” said he as he sat in his Court
“I think”, says old Peter, we’ll cut the thing short.
“If we leave the Court now we can all of us see
The races they row on the tide of the Lee”.
Another – and soon may I see him again!
He was always on hand with a glass of champagne;
And all the blue devils that make you repine
He could drown, and he did, in a bumper of wine.
If you stopped for a moment, “I’m Sheriff ” says he,
“And I’ll make you drink fair on the banks of the Lee”.
There was fun and diversion from morning to night,
And the smile of the girls ‘twas a sunbeam for light,
Their eyes were like sapphires, their teeth were like pearls,
And it’s Cork on the Lee that’s the city for girls
Oh, they spoke us and joked us so frank and so free,
That we wished to stay on by the Banks of the Lee.
There was work for the glass, for the knife and the fork,
There was work for dry throats in the City of Cork;
And whatever they did at the end of their meals,
There was one thing they didn’t – they never tapped heels.
So, here’s love and good luck with a thirty-times three,
From the banks of the Thames to the men of the Lee.
There is one last piece of silverware to be accounted for. In October 1902, Cork Regatta Committee presented a cup to Berlin R. C., that year’s losing finalists. Has it survived two world wars? Let us hope it can be found; Besser spät als nie.