for THE first time Limerick’s pioneering boat building is offering free classes for the public to learn to row the city’s traditional boat - the gandelow.
The Ilen wooden boat-building school, which is based in the LEDP centre in Roxboro, is offering free rowing classes on Saturdays. The ambitious school has trained hundreds of young Limerick people, as well as international students, in the craft of wooden boat-building over the past three years.
Gary MacMahon, the founder of the school, said this is a “wonderful opportunity to engage directly with the river, within the city” and to “view traditional boat handling”.
They are urging people to “take this unique opportunity to connect with the water in a safe and sustainable way”.
The first session will be held on Saturday, November 24, at 1.30pm at the slipway on O’Callaghan Strand, adjacent to Saint Michael’s Rowing Club. Those interested are advised to wear weather appropriate clothing and book in advance. Sessions are subject to weather conditions, and life jackets will be provided.
A leading British naval architect and yacht designer, Theo Rye, recently travelled to Limerick to assist the local experts in their endeavour “to nail the definitive Limerick gandelow that lurks behind several disguises, fronts, and other manifestations”, said Mr MacMahon.
“The result should be the definition of class, a beautiful boat, swift on river and fearless at sea, capable of being rowed or lightly sailed,” he said.
The school will then proceed to build a fleet for the Great Limerick Gandelow Race next May and the Greater Limerick Gandelow Race of 2014, when Limerick becomes the Cultural Capital of Ireland. The gandelow is a wide rowing boat historically used for salmon fishing on the estuary.
For the first time in 65 years gandelow racing returned to the river Shannon this summer, due to the club’s efforts at revival.