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John rows in behind club after 60 years

March 11th, 2022 8:00 PM

By Helen Riddell

John rows in behind club after 60 years Image
John with Castletownbere Ladies Rowing Club members (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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A STALWART of Castletownbere Rowing Club, John O’Shea, has retired as the club’s chairperson after dedicating over 60 years to the club and steering it to international success.

When John first joined the club he rowed for several years before becoming involved in coaching, eventually joining the committee and helping to source funding. He took over running the club following the death of committee member Jim O’Sullivan.

The club currently has over 50 members, and although much of its activity has been suspended over the past two years due to Covid restrictions, John says they are looking forward to a busy summer of competitions.

However, due to their location, he outlined how the Castletownbere teams had it tougher than most other rowing clubs. ‘We have a good distance to travel to any competition, before our crews can even get the boat in the water, and then afterwards they have to load the boats back on to the trailers and have the same long journey home,’ he said.

Distance has not deterred them and in recent years, the club, under John’s stewardship has travelled to Canada, France and Switzerland to compete in competitions, and enjoyed great success.

In 2021 Castletownbere was represented on the world stage at the Work Rowing Coastal Championships in Portugal, which saw club member Miriam Sheehan making the finals and placing seventh overall in the world.  John attributes the club’s success to the dedication of all those involved at every level.

‘We’ve had some fantastic crews over the years at all levels but there is an almighty amount of time that goes into getting everything ready, from all the hours of training, maintaining the boats, the trailers,  arranging transport to competitions, and it’s all voluntary.’

John said the mainstay of any club is to have a continual intake of young rowers: ‘It’s a great pastime for any young person, and they can see the success of the senior teams who have all worked their way up through the ranks.’

At the club’s recent AGM John was presented with a piece of engraved crystal and thanked for all his years of service.  While he has retired from the day-to-day running of the club, he won’t be giving up his passion for rowing, ‘come regatta week you’ll still find me down on the pier cheering them on.’

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