AFTER four years of planning, design and fundraising, St Michael’s Rowing Club this week launched its new €200,000 floating pontoon on the water in Limerick city.
The dock, which it is predicted will have a 100-year lifespan, was officially launched by Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, Olympian and club member Sinead Lynch, and St Michael’s president Tom Larkin.
The new community-use pontoon, operated by emergency rescuers and rowers, will allow several boats to enter the Shannon at the same time, rather than having to wait for boats to be launched individually.
The new facility, which cost in the region of €200,000, received a €75,000 investment from the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, a Government sports capital grant, and members’ contributions. A spokesperson for the club said that expatriate members were “especially generous”.
To mark the special occasion, Minister O’Donovan unveiled a new vessel at the pontoon, dedicated to the memory of the late club stalwart Jim ‘Monty’ Ahern — a former national champion — who died in 2016.
The Newcastle West-based TD said that he was “delighted” to launch the new structure and the boat at O’Callaghan Strand.
“These new facilities will, I am sure, help increase participation among the local community and also make sure existing members have top class facilities to help with performance.
“The continued investments in sports facilities through the sports capital programme is very important to both myself as Minister with responsibility for the sports capital investment programme and the Government.”
Club captain Antoinette Ahern said they are “very lucky” to have access to the amenity along the river.
Ms Lynch, who represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics, said that it is a “great addition” to the club, which has one of the largest memberships for any rowing club in the country.
Mr Larkin paid particular thanks to the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, adding that “they really rowed in behind the club”.