On Saturday 4th of September the River Lee was bustling with young people in traditional currachs as we hosted our first physical event in almost two years. Some 50 participants in over 20 boats took part in the Ocean to City Youth Event, covering the 4.5km from Blackrock Village to Lapp’s Quay.

The Ocean to City Youth Event is part of the main Ocean to City –An Rás Mór since the very first race in 2005. Due to restrictions this year, it was held as a standalone event.

Crews pictured at Blackrock Village before the race began. Picture: Deirdre McCaffrey Photography
Leah, Charlie and Alexander pictured rowing together for the first time today in a 3-hand Naomhóg built by young people in Churchfield Community Trust. Picture: Deirdre McCaffrey

This year’s race participants reflect the great diversity of Meitheal Mara’s Bádóireacht youth rowing and sailing programme. Crews included young people from Mayfield Neighbourhood Youth Programme, Foroige’s Big Brother Big Sister programme, CDYS Youth Work Ireland Gurranabraher, St. Joseph’s Foroige Mayfield, Educate Together class of 2019, Naomhóga Chorcaí Currach Club, Fionnbarra Youth Crew, Glanmire Foroige, Foroige Togher and members of the Bádóireacht Youth Council including past pupils from Cork Life Centre.

Some young people have been rowing with Bádóireacht since as far back as 2017, however, many were only introduced to currach rowing for the first time two months ago.

Hannah and Christopher representing Mayfield NYP. Christopher only began rowing in July of this year. Picture: Keith Bohanna

Over the past twenty years, Bádóireacht has provided rowing and sailing programmes to thousands of young people that would not otherwise have had access to the water. Bádóireacht principally works with young people from marginalised groups or communities that are vulnerable or at risk of isolation. Over the past two years in particular; as a provider of non-contact, outdoor sport; Bádóireacht has played a distinctly important role in creating a space where young people can be active and sociable in a safe environment. Saturday’s Ocean to City Youth Event was a culmination of that work.

The event was a celebration of the resilience of the young people over the past 18 months, of their achievements in training for this race and to mark the return of many more events and celebrations on the water.

Ocean to City participant Liam McCormick said:

‘We trained for the last three months with the Bádóireacht programme as well as with Naomhóga Chorcaí. It has been great craic getting out on the water every week – I probably would have gone mental without!’

Foróige’s Big Brother Big sister programme and members of the Bádóireacht Council neck and neck as they race towards the finish line. Picture: Keith Bohanna

Over the past year, Bádóireacht has also worked with Togher and Glanmire Foroige groups to establish integration rowing programmes with young people living in Direct Provision accommodation. This work has resulted in two very successful rowing programmes taking place this summer. These programmes are building on Bádóireacht’s work with young people from migrant communities since 2017 and sees young people from Direct Provision centres taking part in Ocean to City for their third successive race.

Clare Hayden, Bádóireacht Manager, said:

‘I’m thrilled to have delivered a physical event for our young people at last. They have shown fantastic resilience over the past year and we’re delighted to put on an event to celebrate them. Our rowing programme gives young people space away from what’s going on in their lives. It gives them skills that they can build on and grow in confidence. They learn to problem-solve, overcome challenges in difficult weather – and it is fantastic to see them come through that programme and complete the 4.5 km race.’

This programme was supported by Cork Sports Partnership through the Sport Ireland Active Cities project.

About the Active Cities Project:
An Active City strives to create social norms about the benefits of sport and physical activity, create programmes and opportunities for its citizens regardless of ability or age, work in partnership to increase physical activity & decrease inactivity, and create/maintain environments where sport & physical activity can happen ultimately working toward healthier lifestyles of their citizens.

The Bádóireacht programme is supported by UBU Your Place Your Space through the Cork Education & Training Board.  UBU provides quality, flexible and responsive supports to young people in a community-based setting.