The Foyle’s association with rowing dates back more than a hundred years. In 1912, the City of Derry Boating Club won the Irish Amateur Rowing Union’s first ever Senior Eights championship in Dublin. Today, the same club, at Prehen on the River Foyle, offers enthusiasts the opportunity to train and compete in this Olympic sport.
Enthusiasts — single sculls, double sculls, pairs, quads and eights — row on a magnificent stretch of tidal water flanked by wooded hills and the riverside gardens of grand Victorian homes. Given the currents and winds, rowing here isn’t without its challenges.
Lough Foyle, 20 miles long and 5 miles wide in places, provides great opportunities for coastal rowing. Members of the Foyle Rowing Club based at Moville train regularly in ‘Foyle punts’ — pulling hard against the strong currents on the Lough in traditional, handcrafted wooden boats that are racing dinghies in all but name. They compete in events such as the Celtic Challenge, a 90-nautical mile race from the east coast of Ireland to Wales.
The calm lower reaches of Newry Canal in the Carlingford area provide perfect conditions for recreational rowing. Rowing Ireland often uses the water for trials and assessments of its international rowing squads. Local club members train regularly and row competitively.
In 2018, the 14th Irish International Currach Championships were staged in Carlingford Lough with teams coming together at Warrenpoint to celebrate and maintain this ancient boating tradition.