SLIDESHOW: St Michael's Rowing Club marathon fundraiser for Pieta House

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MEMBERS of Limerick city centre rowing club St Michael’s kick-started their post lockdown return to training by supporting Pieta House in a unique fundraising event over the weekend.

Club members from their junior, senior, recreational and master’s crews took on the task of completing 42kms each or in relay teams by rowing on their ergometers, running, hiking and cycling.

They even had a 1km open water swim in Limerick city centre when committee member Andrew O’Connell took to the River Shannon for an open water 1km swim in the sunshine.

Some 77 St Michael’s Rowing Club members took part in the Marathon Weekend over two days and the total distance completed was a staggering 3,170,484 meters.

All of the participants completed the events from home and in-line with government guidelines on social distancing.

Club Captain Mike McDonagh was very proud of the response from the rowers. He said: “Lockdown has been very difficult for everyone, especially our younger crews who would be at the start of their racing season right about now.

"It was great to see everyone taking part and what better way to mark our return to training on the river this week. We’re hoping to get some racing over the next few months culminating in the Irish Championships later in the year.

St Michael’s have always played an active part in community with fundraising events for Novas, Limerick Suicide Watch, who are their charity partners for the annual SMRC Urban Run, the Great Limerick Clean Up and Shane Ryan’s Guidedogs for the Blind some of the recent events supported.

Event coordinator Brian Richardson took the opportunity to thank everyone. He said: “It’s great that our members, supporters and the public continually get behind everything we do to raise much needed fun either for the club or for charity.

"Next up for us in St Michael’s is to work on our Kids Summer Rowing Camps, our Masters Regatta and SMRC Urban Run. We are hopeful that they can take place later in the year to bring some much-needed fundraising into the club. We love that our city centre base allows us to bring these events into the heart of the city."

Initially St Michael’s had set a target of €2,000 to be raised for Pieta House but thanks to overwhelming support from members all around the world and the public, including donations from local Limerick businesses Redfaire, The Commercial Bar and Bowe Dental, the total raised by Monday morning was a staggering €6,679.

The fundraising link will remain open for another few days (check out www.smrc.ie) and event organiser Brian Mc Inerney is confident that the €7,000 mark can be surpassed. He said: “St Michael’s has always had fantastic member base and it was brilliant to see both the meters and euros being clocked up over the weekend.

"We’re delighted that we were able to support Pieta House in the work that they do. We want to thank everyone who took part and to congratulation Chris Kirwan on her Irish record. It was a great boost to the event and everyone taking part when we got confirmation of her record”.

Chris Kirwan, who has represented Ireland on three occasions at the Home International and Coupe de la Jeunesse, set out to break the record on Saturday morning.

Fatigue was starting to kick in during the last 10kms but her at home supporters, dad Joe and brother Jack, pushed her on and had to resort to throwing cold water on her to help keep the temperature down on a scorching sunny Saturday.

Chris finished the 42km distance in an Irish Record time of 2 Hours 55 Minutes and 12 seconds beating the record previously set by Katie Showlow of Bann Rowing Club. Chris is currently on a year out after last year’s leaving certificate and will starting studying Exercise and Fitness Management this September in UL.  

Limerick city walkers of the Three Bridges and Barrington Pier walks will be able to see the St Michael’s crews returning to the water this week.

The lifting of restrictions is a great boost to the club and they are hoping that they can open up to new members both kids and adults looking to try out the sport through their Learn to Row camps. More details on St Michaels events can be found on their social media pages. Well rowed St Michael’s!