By Martin Walsh
PLANS for what is best described as an ambitious but achievable building project for the Courtmacsherry Rowing Club were unveiled at the Courtmacsherry Community Centre on Thursday night last as communities unite to create a facility that addresses issues that are key to the club’s existence and continuing success. A promotional flyer says, “Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.”
The club founded in 1991 has recently received full planning permission for a state of the art facility to replace a temporary structure consisting of two metal containers and a lean-to at Beach Road, Courtmacsherry. Originally, the club was based at Courtmacsherry Pier.
In a wide-ranging presentation from several of its club members, it was learned that the new facility will cost €400,000 - a far cry from the €1,200 that was raised in 1992 to purchase a second hand boat and oars.
The club has enjoyed great success at local and national coastal rowing events and some teams have participated in England, Greece, Peru and Monte Carlo. The Courtmacsherry club has also organised Cork County and All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships and were first to order (in 2001) a One Design Celtic yawl. One club rower, Rohan Ager broke the Irish U-15 Indoor record in 2017 and has been invited by Rowing Ireland to take part in their rowing camps.
The presentation outlined the origins of the club, its set-up and evolution and strategy for the future. Chairperson Brian Whelton told the Southern Star, “€400,000 is a sizeable amount to get from any community but down through the years we have had strong support, we are a club of the community and with steady work and commitment we will raise the money over the four year period that we have set.” He added, ‘Membership has been growing steadily and this year was our biggest active rowing participation, we had 115 active rowers, 74 of which are under 18’.
It’s all about sporting participation, we never try and set up the club in opposition to anything. We allow our members to maximise their participation in all sports.” While the base is Courtmacsherry, the club draws its membership from a ten-mile radius that includes the broader Barryroe region, Timoleague, Ballinascarthy while they also have members from Kilbrittain, Ballinspittle and even some from Cork city.
The background to the provision of the new building is to create an amenity that utilises the natural resources of the area through rowing and land based training facilities. So far, €15,250 has been invested – on feasibility, design and planning - all of which has been covered by donations. Raising the remainder of the finance will be targeted through four channels - donations (club members and members of the public), fundraising events, corporate sector and grant aid.
Club safety officer, Daniel Whelton remarked, ‘We started off as an underage club some twenty six years ago and where we are now has surpassed our expectations. We are an all-year round club and we cater for ages from ten to sixty plus. We always take a fun element in the club as this is important within sport.
We always ensure that all the children have life jackets and the coxswains are well versed in safety procedures. The new facility will give the young people of this area the best possible facilities so that they can realise their maximum potential into the future.’ One interesting fundraiser is the option of becoming an ambassador for the building project by signing up for the €2k challenge (€500 per year for the next 4 years) – be it individually or groups. During the presentation those in attendance were informed that the new building will facilitate the safe and secure storage of the club’s fleet (currently estimated to be worth €120,000), presently, much of the equipment is stored off site. The facility will allow land based training when sea conditions are unsuitable and will also address toilet, shower and changing facilities that are desperately needed to support the current membership.
Local councillors, Paul Hayes and John O’Sullivan were in attendance and there were apologies from Minister Jim Daly and T.D.s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and Michael Collins.
Providing an overview of the new facility, that is set to be completed by January 2022 and will be built on land secured from Cork County Council on a 99-year lease, Brian Whelton concluded, ‘It will be a community amenity open to everybody for everybody to use as they want.’