Old Collegians Boat Club was well represented at the 2013 FISA World Masters Regatta which took place in Varese, Italy in September. The event attracted 3,355 athletes from 40 countries, the biggest ever entry. The club took part in C (over-43), D (over-50), E (over-55) and F (over-60) events.
Having our own boats at the event was a great advantage and credit is due to the towing party, Tom Fennessy, Paul Romeril, James Heney and Greg Hamil, who towed the boats from Dublin to Varese. The weather conditions on the homeward journey were particularly challenging. It was as a result of Tom Fennessy’s great skill and experience that the trailer and all the boats arrived back in Dublin unscathed.
Given that the event was so close to one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan, it was appropriate that the OC crews turned out in style in their new Merc Partners sponsored one-piece suits.
Phelim Murray sets the rhythm for OC E8+ on the way to the start.
The particularly large contingent from Ireland didn’t go unnoticed and it was the Irish impressions of the event that were quoted on the FISA web site which summed up the event: http://www.worldrowing.com/news/masters-regatta-closes-2013-world-rowing-season:
“Amongst the competitors was a large contingent of Irish rowers who were making their annual trip to the Masters Regatta, the highlight of their season. “The standard of racing here is really high,” said Commercial Rowing Club, Dublin’s Liam Gleeson. “People often think that it’s easy to win here but it is competitive. It is not just about turning up,” he explained. Coming to Varese was a welcome reprieve from the rowing conditions they face in Ireland. “The weather is fantastic, there is no wind and the water is flat,” Eoin Wilson of Old Collegians Boat Club described, with crew mate Enda Bracken adding jokingly, “we’re baking in this heat!””
In spite of the heat our crews were competitive. Barry O’Connor’s insightful selections saw the OC rowers form composites with Commercial, Cappoquin and City of Derry Rowing Clubs and all of our boats were in the hunt at the finish.
Certainly composite crews and international crews are now the order of the day particularly in the eights events. It was down to an Ireland eight comprising oarsmen from Commercial Rowing Club, Belfast Boat Club, Drummoyne Boat Club, Cappoquin Boat Club and Dan Donnelly from Old Collegians to bring home a medal in the D8+ category.
The next event on the masters rowing calendar is from July 25th – 27th 2014 : 5th Euro Master Regatta Munich. Hopefully it will be a little cooler!
The Ireland crew winners of the D8+ in Varese.
James (pictured in stroke above) rowed for UCD from 1997-1999 and again in 2001. During his time rowing with UCD he won the Inter VIII National Championships in 1998 and the Gannon Cup in 2001. He hailed from Killarney and his home club was Muckross, and whilst he had success with UCD, he was first and foremost a Muckross man. He enjoyed great success in the Muckross colours winning the Novice Sculls Championship in 1999 and the Senior Coxed Four in 2000. He also won a Henley medal with Commercial in 2003 competing in the The Men’s Quadruple Sculls. So it’s true to say that wherever James rowed, success quickly followed.
James achieved so much because he was a man of integrity – a man who put his all into every stroke. And by his all we mean more than mere grit, determination and athleticism; for James, rowing was about winning and winning meant doing everything possible to achieve the best boat speed. He was exacting in his approach to racing; to training and the ‘honest’ appraisals he gave us, his crewmates. As an architect, James understood how the devil is often in the details. To us, James was more of a divil for the details.
In saying this, there was nothing too refined or regal in the way our friend from the Kingdom carried himself outside our boat. ‘Colourful’ is perhaps the best word for him. He was also truly unconventional, unpredictable and very entertaining to be around.
He was constantly snacking – and when he was trying to make lightweight we took great enjoyment in catching him surreptitiously tucking into cornflakes (see above), bread and jam, and any other treat he could get his hands on. As we recalled, during those ‘middle-weight’ years, whenever anyone asked him what weight he was he would always quip, “the same as Johnny (Devitt)”.
He was a lovable rogue who got away with his eccentricities. He was always late and always had an excuse – and we were always ready to make allowances for him. He was a scruffy sight; we reckon he only ever bought one one-piece for any club he represented and wore them until they were thread-bare. This habit earned him further renown as well as the affectionate moniker, “Manky”.
A great tale that surfaced over the last few days highlights the rogue in James. James McCullough recalled the following story about one particularly tough session with John Holland at Blesso: “We were in the quad, we were taking our 3 minute rest between 6 minute pieces, and with about 30 seconds left, James started telling John an entirely fabricated story about a man who lived in a house nearby and who picked potatoes as a pastime. By the time John copped the ruse, the 3 minute break grew to 4 at least. I found it funny and was grateful for the rest.”
His colourful nature, his unpredictability and his disregard for convention made him, his work and his passions eclectic and interesting.
He fell in love with swing dancing and travelled to Scandinavia and Argentina to perfect his skills. He was an ambassador for swing and tango and was always happy trying to convert any of us he could to its many attractions. He built a worldwide circle of friends who shared his passion and we followed him vicariously (on Facebook) as he wandered the globe in a flurry of dance. It was put to me, and it is hard to argue, that he was unquestionably the best dancer UCDBC ever had in its ranks. He also knew how to throw a mean party.
While in college during the summer of 1998 he worked with James McCullough as a bike courier. This tale sums him up beautifully – “He was crap, never knew where he was going, got lost every day, kept forgetting pick ups or drop offs, and was always letting his radio run out of battery. He couldn’t have made enough money to pay for lunch most days”. And yet he did. And he got away with it all too.
Most recently James ran ‘Hyde Park Hounds’, a dog walking company in London. No surprises there. So I guess we can add best dog walker that UCDBC ever had in its ranks to his lengthy list of titles.
He was a nonconformist who was the perfect fit for our crew and we loved having him on-board. Above all, James was a man who had the courage to be himself. He will be missed dearly and the world is a little greyer in his absence.
May he rest in peace,
Muckross Rowing Club have a fitting tribute to James which is well worth a read – http://www.muckrossrowingclub.ie/
Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below
Liz Cooke sadly passed away on Friday 12th July, 2013 at her home, Tigoni, in the presence of her family.
I first met Liz in 1970. Tom Stokes, who is now very ill, was Captain of UCDBC that year and the Senior VIII coached by Tom Sullivan had been unbeaten. At Trinity regatta that year UCDBC won all VIII’s events, Senior, Junior and Maiden. Many will not remember Ireland at the time but money was very short and much had not changed much since the 19th century. A bar of chocolate still cost 6d., and the weekly wage allowed no extravagance. The previous year a member of the senior VIII had collapsed from malnutrition and a life threatening low blood count. Tom sent Frank McKenna and the late Dave Gannon on an exploratory expedition to Henley to find accommodation for the crew. They set off on the cattle boat and returned safely with exciting news of our accommodation.
The four of the crew that travelled with me were so heavy that I had to sit in the back of my Ford Anglia, to prevent the car sitting down on the shock absorbers with grinding thuds at every bump. We sailed overnight and arrived at Sonning Common in the mid afternoon. The house was empty and nobody around until a small boy and girl around seven years of age ran from the back garden excitedly shouting at us to find their rabbit which had escaped. Liz arrived shortly afterwards (with essential shopping) to find a strange empty car in the driveway and when she went around the back she saw oarsmen on their hands and knees, heads in the bushes and backside sticking up in the air, looking for a white rabbit.
The ten days to two weeks (I cannot recall the exact time) that we stayed with Liz were idyllic. John & Diana were sent to a tent in the back garden to make space for the crew. Liz was unbelievably generous and fed us like kings. We consumed huge amounts of food. One memory is of a gallon tin of ice cream being polished off. Nobody on the crew had experienced such food in such quantities. As we only had one car she ferried the rest of the crew into and home from Henley. She told me some years later that it was her first time putting up crews and she was apprehensive. There was no sign of it. Over all the years she has never wavered in her generosity which was her spirit and nature. It was not just a home from home she was a fairy godmother to all from UCD who stayed with her.
I stayed with her the following year the first year of the” Animals” and some three years later she looked after the UCD crew that won the Ladies Plate a small reward for all her generosity to UCDBC and its alumni that she continued for the rest of her life.
It was in later years that I got to know Liz better through long tete a tetes in her beautiful garden in Tigoni. She did not have an easy life but never showed it. Any sadness that floated into her memories would be fully dissipated within minutes. She had a very broad vision and experience of life and a great love of her parents, grandparents and of course her children and grandchildren. She had a love for Ireland and felt a loss at leaving it. She also had a love for Russia and in 1970 provided an interpreter for the Russian crew. She was a very cultured person with a great eye for artistic beauty, an aesthete to the core.
She delighted in her granddaughter, Beth’s performances at the Gate and travelled especially to see them. She was deeply proud that Beth forsook the fame and fortune that the name Cusack would have brought her and retained Cooke, although Liz would not have been critical of her if she had done so. Liz could communicate with all persons from the most surly teenage oarsman to the “so with it” oarswoman and she did have to put up with an extraordinary cross section of oarsmen and women.
Liz had prepared so that John and Diana coped wonderfully with the invasion of their home and integrated with us as if we were family. One abiding memory is sitting on the floor of her sitting room with some of the crew, Liz, John and Diana while she played and explained wonderful classical music which entranced us. Another was a walk on a lovely summer afternoon when she brought us through the bridle paths near Sonning Common including a track through a wheat field bending with the ripening corn. She had been deeply hurt by life in particular by the tragic and untimely death of Diana, yet she was one of the most spiritual and loving people I have met. She had the ability to see life, and make you see life as a wonderful tapestry full of life, colour, culture, sport, endeavours but at the same time see but not despair of its shocks, unfairness, and adversities. I can still hear her chuckle of delight at my expression of surprise at my first sip of a superb Rioja she furnished on our return from Henley after our defeat in a race. That moment and the wonderful aftertaste will linger for ever.
Liz was ever thoughtful and fiercely loyal. She was always planning on how to make the trips of UCDBC and OC more enjoyable. After an early morning defeat she would have a full breakfast ready for us on our return despite having been up at the crack of dawn to breakfast us before we left for the race. She was also mischievous and delightful.
I shall leave it to others more capable to seek to explain Liz’ life and all she has done for UCDBC, rather than these scattered thoughts and memories which are precious to me.
Liz will be sorely missed by generations of UCDBC, OCBC and all who knew her. Her memory will live on, both in the sadness of her loss and the strength of her nature that we take life as it comes and live it to the full with generosity and love, exploiting ones gifts and nature to the full to that end. A wonderful loving person that I and generations of UCDBC through her 44 years of association were most privileged to meet.
Tom Sullivan writes: I came to the Boat Club at Longmeadows in 1956. UCD rowing was at its lowest ebb since its foundation. I heard regular references to Old Collegians, and before very long, to us ‘Maidens’, the face of O.C. came to be Dermot Farrelly, Joe Hanly and Jim Meenan. Without their presence and support I often wonder what would have become of the place. If ever a group provided continuity they did. They introduced Peter Spillane to coach the ‘Maidens’ in 1957-58 and some success was achieved. Peter was in full control of coaching in 1958-59, and he brought along Barry McDonnell and between them they put a very good Senior Eight on the water. By 1960 the Pot had been won again by the College, and the rest is on record.
We raced at Cappoquin in ’59 and Dermot travelled to support the crew. I remember that one because it was early days for that crew and Cappoquin was almost ultramontane at the time. And it was that level of interest and involvement that I always admired in Dermot. He was there to watch the rowing; he was there at every post regatta get-together to congratulate us, or commiserate with us. I believe Dermot’s presence through those years stirred renewed interest in many other members of Old Collegians. Michael Hayes, Roughan Banim, Frank McKenna and others became regular faces around the place.
He joined the Boat Club in 1943, having rowed at Dublin Rowing Club before he came to College. He was Captain of the Club in 1945. When College won the Senior Eights Championship of Ireland at Waterford in 1947, he rowed 7 in that crew. He was also the first President of the UCD Ladies Boat Club, when it was founded by Mary Stuart and others in 1974.
Dermot was a family man. He was an architect by profession. But the Dermot I knew was a rowing man. He was the driving force behind the move of the Dublin Metropolitan Regatta to Blessington Lake. He was the force behind the decision of University College Dublin to purchase the Salmon Weir site from St. Patrick’s Hospital to provide a new site for the College Boat Club. He would have loved to see the project completed as he had planned — boathouse and separate clubhouse. Maybe some day.
In rowing he saw two great objectives for the Boat Club —the Irish Senior Eights Championship and victory at Henley. Henley success proved elusive, but again he persisted and invited Geoffrey Page to offer his experience to College rowing. And Henley success came with victory in the 1974 Ladies’ Plate. It used not to be all on the water during Geoffrey’s visits to Dublin. I have fond memories of get-togethers in Neptune and Commercial or in Ryans of Parkgate Street after practice with Dermot, Geoffrey, Peter Linehan, Donal Hamilton, Pat O’Sullivan, Frank McKenna and Barry McDonnell.
The lads from the crews of 1971 and the following years developed great attitudes to training and winning from the enthusiasm generated around that time. After the drinks came food with more drinks and Dermot was never slow to put his hand in his pocket to take care of the tab in places like the Bailey, the Wicklow or the Hibernian. They were the high-end eateries of those days and Dermot was generous to a fault where the Club was concerned.
Dermot was nothing if not persistent. He saw no reason why every objective would not be achieved by persistence and dogged determination. Long before John F Kennedy asked it, Dermot Farrelly was asking “why not”? If you were to win at Henley every other year, Dermot would most likely say “but Harvard win every year”. Impatient and difficult to satisfy Dermot could be.
Where do I see Dermot? I see Dermot in his office at Baggot Street (later at Herbert Street) at 5.30 p.m. of an evening ready for another 0.C. meeting — Dermot pipe in mouth; the office perfumed with tobacco smoke. I see him in Larry Murphy’s after meetings or In the Stag’s Head when meetings were held there. I see him driving in his beige-coloured M.G. into the old Boat Club at Longmeadows of a Saturday evening. I see him afterwards amid the gathering in the Athletes’ Rest.
I recall him and myself in Jim Miley’s company in Miley’s pub in Blessington on Summer evenings after a Metro Regatta meeting in the Downshire.
I see him with Wally Stevens, Eamon Goggin and others working late on the Regatta installations on the lake.
I see him at Henley with Maura observing perfect Regatta decorum in dress and behaviour.
When I think of Dermot I ask myself did I ever see him dishevelled in appearance? Or unruly or Loud-mouthed? Never., Most of us can go overheard from time to time but never Dermot. He just had that innate sense of propriety, He was gentle and mild mannered. He was generous of spirit — incapable of being mean in thought or deed.
I think of him with great affection. He will be Dermot — forever questioning; forever pushing out the boundaries.
May God rest him.
The 69th OCBC Dublin Head sponsored by Romeril Forensic Engineers took place on Easter Saturday, 30th of March.
We had a really nice cool, bright sunny spring day, conditions were good for racing, a little bumpy to Heuston Station but overall good, coupled with a gentle eastern breeze, it was a day for for quick times.
Once again new bridge works meant we had to move the start up to Ha’penny Bridge.
The spring tide made getting over the weir a challenge but the OC lads on hand played a blinder in getting boats over safely and quickly, and 32 boats took part.
The winner of the Senior 8 and the overall Head was a dead heat between a Commercial-based composite and a UCD Senior / Inter crew, with both crews taking away a pennant and sharing the O’Brien Cup.
I understand that the one previous dead-heat in the event was a UCD/DUBC tie in 1953.
Category Winners: (Time – Mins:Secs)
Senior VIII Commercial Comp / UCDBC Dead heat (10:32)
Inter VIII UCDBC (11:02)
Novice VIII DUBC (11:17)
Junior VIII Neptune RC (11:35)
Senior IV+ Commercial ‘B’ (12:35)
Masters IV+ OCBC (13:28)
Novice 4 X DUBC (13:49)
Senior VIII UCDLBC (12:40)
Inter VIII Commercial (12:56)
Novice VIII UCDLBC (13:34)
Junior VIII Commercial (14:00)
Senior IV+ DULBC (14:47)
To view detailed results of the race click here
To view photographs of all of the crews taken from the Millennium Bridge click here.
UCD won the Diana Cooke Trophy for best overall Club.
Huge thanks to the OC members and friends who volunteered. Obviously without the volunteers the event cannot happen.
Thanks also to Neptune RC, DUBC and in particular UCDBC. Without the use of UCD facilities, we could not run the event. Next year is the 70th Head and we hope to make a big splash (figuratively). Those of you involved in Clubs overseas might consider a trip home with a crew for that one.
As ever, we’ll need more bodies to help run the event though, no previous experience required – we’ll forward the date to all as soon as we can confirm it with Rowing Ireland.
With best wishes
Murrough O’ Brien
Old Collegians Boat Club
This gallery contains 114 photos.
The Old Collegians Dinner was held in the Westin Hotel on Westmoreland St on Friday 23rd of November. To coin a phrase popular amongst Club Secretaries reports from a certain vintage, “a great time was had by all”.
Our guests included the first ever Old Collegians Olympian, Sanita Pusure, Eamonn Lannoye and Claire Ní Reachtagain, captains of UCDBC and UCDLBC respectively,
Claire Lambe, UCDLBC’s Silver Medallist World University Championships 2012, national champions Dave Neale & Gearoid Duane (UCDBC inter 2x and 1x) and Amy Bulman, UCDLBC’s Inter 1X national champion.
It was a great delight to all that Liz Cooke could make it over for the dinner. Great too to see past members of UCDLBC attending in such numbers. Murrough O’Brien was presented with the Hanly Medal for his outstanding contribution to UCD rowing over the past many years.
photo thanks to Tom Kirby