The Irish dragon boat community was delighted to welcome its newest club, Ballina Dragon Boat Club: Meitheal Abhainn (River Community) was established on May 8th, 2023. Denise Swanick formed a Meitheal to set up the club in a way that is accessible to all. The people of Ballina showed friendship, kindness and generosity in helping to make her vision a reality.
We are a novice crew but we are determined to accept and enjoy the challenges and learn the skills of paddling, helming and reading the local conditions on the River Moy. Ballina Dragons have a wonderful crew of people with varying abilities, ages etc. We are pals, friends and loyal to each other. We are all individuals but once we are on the boat, we all beat as one heart.
Currently we have 48 members & 80 people in our WhatsApp group. Some members are associate members i.e., they are part of the land-based crew. We share our expertise and knowledge to support each other and the club e.g., yoga, Pilates, IT, project management, emergency response, building skills and the list goes on. We have winter training plans which include land training, pool paddles alongside Basic Life Support & AED training for our crew.
In the words of President Mary Robinson, “Somebody who seems strong is not always strong.” There are moments when one can be weak and need the friendship of friends and their support. Ballina Dragons are paying forward with gratitude and we believe we can leave a legacy of kindness, understanding and connectedness using the medium of Dragon Boating. Ballina Dragons aim to thrive by planning for the future, creating, being our best self, living our values, and doing the most meaningful work we can do.
Our boat is being named in honour of a crew member who has shown and continues to show resilience, determination, vigour and a great sense of humour. We were honoured to name our first Dragon Boat “Michelle”, after our good friend and crew member Michelle Dolan.
Ballina Dragons hosted our launch party on 30th September and our Community Open day on 1st October 2023. We wish to thank Grainne Mhaol Castlebar, Maeb Dragons Sligo, Donegal Dragons for all their support and guidance, and to acknowledge the moral support and encouragement received from so many Irish and International clubs via social media.
Medb Dragon Warriors
Medb’s Dragon Warriors have had a very busy start to the last quarter of 2023. We had a great weekend at Lough Rynn Regatta welcoming Wendy Grose from UK Pink Royals and Linda Taylor from Plurabelles on our team.
Then the epic journey was made by 2 members to Rotterdam to collect our first 12 crew DB!! Such excitement when “Solas” arrived to our Waterglades home. “Solas” symbolises our club being the guiding light at the end of the dark cancer tunnel, the beacon guiding people back to wellness, fitness with support on our beautiful Sligo waters.
Our final trip of the season was to France for the Annecy Dragon Boat Festival. A wonderful event with a festive atmosphere and camaraderie…a definite for the calendar next year.
We celebrated our 2nd Birthday with a glorious paddle on Lough Gill on a crisp clear autumn Sunday.
As the winter closes in we will continue to paddle on Sligo waters as long as the weather permits and we look forward to what 2024 has in store for us.