Keith Rowe and Clodagh Benson, Vice Commodores at the Inland Waterways 54th Shannon Boat Rally. Keith is the Commodore of this year's rally.

Shannon Boat Rally kicks off in Athlone this evening

The 56th Shannon Boat Rally gets underway in Athlone this evening and kicks off a ten-day event for families, running until Monday, August 1.
Organised jointly by the Athlone branch and the Carrick branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), the Shannon Boat Rally (1961- 2016) is the most prestigious and well-attended boating event on Ireland’s inland waterways.
“The families boating on the river love coming to Lough Ree and Athlone as part of the Shannon Boat Rally,” said Commodore Keith Rowe. “We look forward to welcoming our boating friends, both old and new, to join us for ten days and enjoy what the river Shannon has to offer. The Shannon is a wonderful resource being important to leisure and recreation, to heritage, to tourism and to the environment.”
“We know only too well how the river Shannon can bring flooding to our town but on this occasion we are celebrating a more positive side to our waterways. In Portrun this year we are launching a book by Donal Boland focusing on the secret and hidden beauty spots on the Shannon,” explained Mr Rowe. “We are also working closely with the RNLI and this year we are focusing on taking a more proactive approach to boating safety.
“The main objective of the Shannon Boat Rally is to bring boaters of all types together to participate in a ten day long fun event for families and friends on the river,” he said. “The first rally was launched at a civic reception in the Royal Hoey Hotel Athlone in 1961 with over 71 boats participating. Throughout its 56 year history over two-thousand nine hundred boats and over eleven thousand people have participated in the boat rally on the Shannon. This year we expect to attract just under 70 boats and three hundred people,” said Mr Rowe.
IWAI President John Dolan said: “The Shannon is a wonderful natural resource with a very significant positive impact for Athlone, and if managed can be a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration.”
The Shannon Boat Rally is an annual event that attracts private boat owners and their families to the Shannon for their annual holidays, contributing to the local economy for the past 56 years.
From its origins, the rally has grown in popularity every year attracting all classes of boats crewed by over three hundred adults, teenagers and children who participate in sports, games, sailing and boating competitions, quizzes, talent and music events while improving their boating skills and safety practices on our waterways.
The rally brings boaters of all abilities and experiences together to share in a common purpose to enjoy the waterways, to share boating know-how and improve their boating skills. The boat rally has attracted many boaters to our inland waterways and promoted development of facilities along the navigation as well as bringing a great dynamic and valuable business to the towns and villages along the river and lakes. The boat rally also encourages responsible use of the waterways for the benefit of all waterway users and has a strong educational, environmental and boating safety theme.