2014 Shannon Boat Rally – A fantastic success.

The 54th Shannon Boat Rally was located in the area of the Athlone Branch generally and commenced at Lough Ree Yacht Club. The meet and greet night occurred there on Friday 25th. July 2014, the Rally concluded in Ballinasloe on Sunday 2nd August.


Premier Award winners the O’Dowd family and their boat Shifty. Oisin, Brian, Aoibhinn, Laureen, David and Fiachre O’Dowd with Commodore Kevin Clabby

The opening night on the Rally is normally an ecumenical service, which did of course take place, however this year there was a special twist. The Rally committee have brought in a defaced burgee for the outgoing commodore and it was decided to invite back all previous commodores, or surviving family members, who were presented with their burgees and what an event this was. The night turned out to be a forum for renewal of old friendships and meetings of people, some of whom were long term rally goers and who had not met in decades in some cases. Then there were those who carried with them the trappings of rallies past and I was able to read an intact copy of the 1966 rally programme. This piece of memorabilia was the proud possession of the late commodore of that year.

Wine and high class food nibbles were consumed and the dancing was in full swing. We had started well.
Sunday was our first real rally day and we had the pleasure of Evelyn Cusack of Met Eireann as guest speaker and were entertained and informed on matters of weather interpretation and forecasting. No promise of a sun filled week was forth coming but nothing too nasty was considered in the offing by Evelyn either.

After skippers briefing there were VHF radio, children’s craft and singing workshops. We were treated to a superb rescue demonstration in the afternoon by Athlone Sub-Aqua team and RNLI volunteers. Sunday concluded with much hilarity with the holding of the fancy dress night and the theme of “saints and scholars” was stretched to the limit with ingenuity.


Ivan Thornbury, left, and Tom and Janice Burke enjoying the Fancy Dress

Monday was moving day to Lakeside Marina and after a very nifty mooring plan was executed by the harbourmaster and team there was a night of music by the rally musicians on the quay wall and in the club house bar.
Tuesday was competition day and the competitors for the starred competition were out with the judges in a hotly pursued premier award; news about the winners later. The RNLI sent an expert in automatic life jacket operation and maintenance and it was of concern to all that there was a high failure rate among the jackets worn by most. The kits in the jackets were for the most part out of date, something which was likely to lead to a difficulty for some if the jacket was called on in an MOB situation. The chandlery at Lakeside obtained the necessary kits and everyone was able to renew the kit and restore confidence in the automatic jackets. This was a lesson to all and readers of this should note and check the expiry date on their jacket kits too.

This was the day we had afternoon tea at the Wineport restaurant and what a treat that was too. A barn dance concluded this hectic day on the 54th rally.


Wineport Lodge

On Wednesday we moved to Hodson Bay and water sports including sailing and swimming took precedence. Then all were free for the main attraction, the new Bay Sports Water Park.  120 people including children, teenagers and adults from the rally took the plunge and had a great day’s fun. A weary rally contingent then had a night’s entertainment in the rally table quiz at Hodson bay Hotel.
Thursday 31st July the rally made the long trip through Athlone to Shannonbridge and once again the harbour team settled the fleet into the harbour areas very carefully. Then the children’s talent show was a big hit with some fantastic talent and ingenuity was on offer.  The night was finished in style with the rally musicians coming out again and entertaining the rally and local patrons in Lukers.
On Friday the option of a clay pigeon shoot was taken up by many with art and craft, flower arranging and singing workshops all in action. The conclusion of the junior RIB challenge was reached with 30 or so participants. The barbeque, now a major event of the Shannon Boat rally, was a fantastic success and coupled with a comedy show by the 2 Willies and a tombola, which raised a fantastic €3,000 for the RNLI, this was a night to remember.
On Saturday we made our last move to Ballinasloe. This is only the second time the Shannon Boat Rally came to Ballinasloe. The town of Ballinasloe had prepared a welcome and facilities for the rally and we are grateful to them. With the concluding events including the adult talent show on Saturday and the closing dinner dance and Premier presentation on Sunday in the Shearwater hotel we finished the 54Th Shannon Boat Rally in style. Monday, not a rally day, was crowned with a wonderful garden party where “tea” was enjoyed by all. Not sure why so many felt the urge to sing though. Must be something in the tea!
We all look forward to the 55th Shannon Boat Rally next year in the North Shannon area. Many thanks to the wonderful committee who made the 54th Shannon Boat Rally happen and the 83 boat owners who chose to enter and make this their main boating experience this year. Thanks too goes to the sponsors, advertisers, Lough Ree Yacht Club, Lakeside Marina, Hodson Bay Hotel, Lukers Shannonbridge, the Shearwater Hotel and Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre for venues and facilities and Waterways Ireland for arranging clear access to harbours.
The Premier award for 2014 in the 54th Rally went to David and Laureen O’Dowd and family on their boat “Shifty”.  Congratulations to all the winners and contestants in all competitions and to judges and committee for making the competitive events, non competitive events and workshops of the rally so successful.
It was my privilege to be commodore in 2014.
Kevin Clabby.

The Commodores Return and Remembered by Martin Donnelly

The genesis of an idea from a past Commodore provided the perfect excuse for a gathering of the past Shannon Boat Rally Commodores spanning 54 years of proud Shannon Boat Rally (SBR) history. The question raised was that past Commodores of the SBR, unlike our salt water cousins, did not have SBR Commodore burgee to proudly fly once the particular term of Commodore ship is completed. It’s a great privilege to be asked to be a Commodore of the SBR, the flagship rally and indeed flagship gathering or eventon the annual Inland Waterways Association of Ireland calendar. The question was raised at the SBR committee and true to form the perfect solution was found and driven by the immediate past Commodore, the 54th Commodore Kevin Clabby. The result was to present a defaced SBR Commodore Burgee to the Commodore of the time, in fact to every SBR past Commodore spanning the previous 54 years of SBR history. That was the easy part, now the work began to track down those Commodores and or family members of sadly deceased Commodores.

All were tracked down and with great pride, and indeed excitement, almost all the Commodores or familymembers of 54 years of SBR history and experience gathered at the opening night of the 54th SBR in Lough Ree Yacht Club, Athlone, within hailing distance of Dunrovin the birthplace of the SBR.

The serving Commodore, Kevin Clabby proudly presented, on behalf of all ralliers, to each past Commodore a defaced SBR Commodore burgee to proudly fly on their yardarm. Great stories were told, old acquaintance rekindled and sound advise given to Kevin for his rally.

Watch out for those Commodores burgees over the length and breadth of our beautiful inland waterways.

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