Fermoy Regatta makes a welcome return to the river

Fun day on the Blackwater expected 
Fermoy Regatta makes a welcome return to the river

Cork Boat Club rowers on the water at the Fermoy Regatta on the River Blackwater, Fermoy in 2018. Picture: Gavin Browne

Fermoy Regatta returns tomorrow after a gap of three years, and its organisers promise a fun day out for all the family.

When the millrace wall of Fermoy Weir collapsed in January 2019, it served as a hammer blow to members of Fermoy Rowing Club who had for more than a decade campaigned to have the historic structure repaired.

With a weir on Fermoy’s Blackwater for 800 years, the 2019 collapse caused the river to drop to its lowest point in centuries, leading to the cancellation of that year’s regatta, an annual event which dates back to the 1940s.

The pandemic made moot the question whether there would be a regatta in 2020, and indeed in 2021.

Tomorrow the regatta returns, with regatta secretary Paul Kavanagh telling The Echo that members of Fermoy Rowing Club have been working hard to get the course ready.

“It’s been all shoulders to the wheel, and we’re overwhelmed by the entry we’ve received, and we’re just delighted to have the regatta back on the water,” he said.

“We have 200-plus races lined up, obviously the clubs have really missed Fermoy, and we’ve missed them too, so we’re really looking forward to the big day.”

Mr Kavanagh said the damage to the millrace wall had resulted in an average drop of a metre-and-a-half in water levels west of the Kent Bridge, with last week’s dry spell causing a two-metre drop.

The recent rain was a welcome stroke of luck, he said, and had restored water levels to levels conducive to rowing.

“I suspect someone has been praying for us, probably our old friend, club stalwart Seán Donnellan, who passed away a few weeks ago, and it’s been the saving of the regatta.”

Sponsors had rowed in behind the regatta with friends from all over the world pitching in, and the event’s return would be a welcome return to Fermoy’s summer calendar.

A planning application for proposed works on Fermoy Weir was recently submitted to An Bord Pleanála, and a decision is expected to be made by December. After a number of delays, Cork County Council, which owns the protected structure, and engineering consultants TJ O’Connor & Associates made their submission last month.

The proposed development involves remedial works to Fermoy Weir and the construction of a new fish bypass channel through what is known locally as the Triangle Field, to the north and west of Kent Bridge.

Members of the club and local angling clubs have expressed cautious optimism that the proposed development might result an alleviation of record low water levels west of Kent Bridge. Site notices remain in situ, and submissions and observations may be made to An Bord Pleanála, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, until 29 29.

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