Clonmel Rowing Club was established in 1869 on the Eastern End of Moore’s Island by a group of local boating enthusiasts. It still occupies the same site today. To generations of Clonmel people it is affectionately known as ‘The Island’. An iconic timber Clubhouse painted with blue and white diagonal stripes was built in the late 1880’s. As the years went by it was extended to accommodate racing boats until it was sadly burnt down in the 1980’s. The club is one of the oldest affiliated rowing clubs in Ireland and one of the oldest sporting clubs in the town of Clonmel and on the River Suir. Prior to the First World War, the 1880’s and 1890’s had been very successful years for the club on the rowing scene . After the First World War the club achieved its first Eights Championship (The Big Pot) win under the Irish Amateur Rowing Union rules in 1920. It also won the famous Leander Trophy at Cork City Regatta. During the 1920/30’s, the club expanded its activities to include tennis, putting, bowling, croquet, athletics and pleasure boating. Swimming became a major feature of the club activities.
The Annual Regatta became part of the Irish Rowing calendar, attracting crews and swimmers from around the country.After the Second World War the club had a chequered existence with tennis and pleasure boating coming to the fore as rowing declined. However it had a brief revival in the late 50’s with Clonmel winning the Blue Riband at Dublin’s Metro Regatta in 1958. Sadly the club closed during the 60’s and was not revived until a group of local businessmen and former members re-established the club to celebrate its Centenary in 1969. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and establishing itself as a successful rowing club at national and international level. The Annual Regatta became a feature of Clonmel’s sporting life in the 1970’s. During this time the Boathouse was refurbished, new top of the range racing boats were purchased, a new slipway was built and swimming and diving became part of the club’s activities. A Maiden IV Championship was won in 1975 and we recorded victories at all major National Regattas. Ladies and schoolgirl rowing was introduced with great success. and the Island became the social mecca of the town. In 1979 a new modern Club and Boathouse was opened and squash was introduced. Frank Kent was the driving force behind the revival and success of the club in those years. The club’s first Junior Schoolboy Four Championship was won in 1980. During the 1980/90’s the Club had many successful rowing achievements with rowers representing Ireland at Henley Royal Regatta, the Home International, the World Rowing Championships and the Coupe de la Jeunesse. Clonmel RC was honoured when Tom Fennessey was elected President of the Irish Amateur Rowing Union in 1996. Tom served in office until 2002. A new focus of the management committee is to broaden the membership base and bring a more diverse age group into the club.The grounds and the Clubhouse have undergone a refurbishment and plans are afoot for further development on and off the river.
In the new millennium the club has continued its winning ways, achieving numerous Irish Championships and winning our second eights championship since 1920 in the Junior Women’s eight in 2005. Squash has declined and the courts are now used as gymnasiums. In recent years Dragon Boat Racing, with the establishment of the Dragon Paddlers, has become a welcome feature of club activity on the river. It has helped to broaden the membership base and bring more senior members into the club. In 2016 one of our members Daire Lynch pulled of a fantastic individual treble, winning the men's Junior Men's Single Scull Championship, the Club Men's Single Scull Championship and the Men's Intermediate Single Scull Championship in the one weekend. He also represented Ireland at the world Championships in the Junior men's Double scull coming 8th in the world. Rowing is and will always be the main objective of Clonmel Rowing Club and as we approach the 150th anniversary of the club. “We’re the first in the field and the last to yield. We’re the boys of rare Clonmel.