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14 Aug 2022

In pictures: Dragon boat Regatta brings international party to Donegal

Crews travelled from all over the world to take part

In pictures: Dragon boat Regatta brings international party to Donegal

Photos by Blaithín Murphy and Colm Kelly

There was a phenomenal sense of celebration at the pier in Donegal Town as Donegal Dragons hosted their first Regatta since 2019.

Hundreds of dragon boat paddlers from all over the world gathered for the event on Saturday afternoon. Old friendships were renewed, new ones were forged and everyone present was soaking up the party atmosphere.

With Mayor of Donegal Town Pauric Kennedy acting as MC for the day, there was entertainment from the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation Choir ahead of racing. 

This was followed by a Zumba warmup from Sarah Marie McDevitt of Pinehill Studios.

Teams then took to the water, each one competing in two heats in the hope of securing a place in one of two finals - the Mixed category, and the Breast Cancer Survivors (BCS) category.

As well as the local Donegal Dragons team, there were crews from Italy, England, Sligo, Dublin and Kilkenny, with members joined by paddlers from as far afield and Australia, Belgium and Canada. 

The Mixed Category was won by Soaring Dragons, a strong UK team made up of men and women, and based in Loughborough, Leicestershire. Second were the all-women home team, Donegal Dragons Inspire, followed closely in Third Place by Athy Dragon Hearts. 

In a first for Donegal Town, there was a Breast Cancer Survivors category at the Regatta, which was won by the trailblazing Plurabelle Paddlers. This Dublin-based club was the first dragon boat team in Ireland, and is made up entirely of breast cancer survivors. 

The visiting Italian teams claimed second and third places in the BCS final.

It was also a great day for Donegal Dolphins, one of only two U18 dragon boat teams in Ireland. While there was no youth category this time around, the crew certainly held their own, finishing ahead of adult teams in each of their two races. 

There was also a sea-themed fancy dress competition which was won by neighbouring club Medb’s Dragon Warriors from Sligo. 

After racing, there was a barbecue at the pier, with further entertainment and karaoke on the Waterbus.

This was a truly international event, and a big boost to the local economy with hundreds of paddlers and family members staying in and around Donegal Town.

Donegal Dragons would like to thank each and every person who attended the Regatta, making it a truly joyous and heart-warming occasion.

A committee spokesperson said: “We thank all the paddlers who travelled from far and wide, the many volunteers – too numerous to mention individually – and a special shoutout to Specsavers, our main sponsor, Donegal County Council, Donegal Bay Waterbus, the RNLI, and the Coast Guard for their support.

“Most importantly, we wish to express our appreciation to our own wonderful community in Donegal without whom these special events would be impossible.

“Saturday was a wonderful, happy day with lots of craic, competitive racing, music dancing, and lots of laughter.”

More information on the club and on how to get involved in dragon boating can be found on the Donegal Dragons Facebook page.

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