IN recent times they have been overshadowed by the tremendous feats of Shannon Rugby Club, but at long last the achievements of Athlunkard Boat Club have been chronicled for future generations in Limerick and in particular St Mary’s Parish.
The Story of Athlunkard Boat Club, founded in 1898 has just been completed by club secretary Michael Kiely and established author Denis O’Shaughnessy.
Athlunkard, is one of three sporting clubs and organisations set up at the end of the 19th century; Shannon RFC in 1884; St Mary’s Fife and Drum band two years later and Athlunkard a further three years down the line.
What many rowing and sporting enthusiasts may not know is the unique record of the club - the only one in the province to have won all three IARU eight titles, plus the inter- provincial championship, a proud record that will stand for all time.
The impressive club house looking out onto the Abbey River as one heads towards Corbally has played a huge role in Limerick sporting life in the parish with hundreds of young people taking up the sport in the club.
Mike Kiely believes that the big turnabout in the club’s rowing fortunes came with the boathouse fire in August 1995. “This kickstarted a campaign to put in place a rowing facility that would stand the test of time and replace the substandard structures we had become used to. The response from people at the time was immense and resulted in not alone the opening of a modern rowing facility, but within a relatively short space of time led to almost €100,000 being invested in new rowing equipment.”
There are many fascinating stories from how the club survived during the two world wars to the severe financial difficulties it found itself in the 1980’s arising from the awarding of two public liability court cases against the club.
In the two unrelated incidents it was alleged that two non members attending a function in the club had suffered injuries when falling into the well of the fountain on their way out. Unfortunately the club had no third party insurance and not for the first time in its history there was a proposal to sell the premises. The club survived but the awards led to the beautiful fountain being covered in with concrete.
Along with many splendid articles, including one titled ‘Christmas Night in the Boat Club’ by Mae Clancy-Leonard, the photos from down through the years make this a must for anyone associated with the club or rowing in Limerick.
They even managed to get their hands on a photo of the founding members back in 1898 and the first winners of a Maiden eight in the same year, with the names of the participants.
The 136 page history is selling in various outlets in St Mary’s Parish including the Credit Union, Treacy’s Shop and the Mall and Corbally bars. You can also get one by ringing Mike Kiely on 087-6717822.