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A Tribute to Sean Kavanagh

photoA native of Causeway, Co. Kerry, Garda Sean Kavanagh, 15128K, joined An Garda Síochána in 1963 and was initially posted to Kilmainham Station. It wasn’t long until he ventured across the river to the Garda Boat Club, where under the guidance of the then Club Captain Gerry McDonagh, Sean began a life long association with the Club.

Sean soon showed his rowing ability when in 1964 he was part of the all conquering Garda Maiden VIII who won the Irish Maiden Championship at Waterford Regatta when they beat Coleraine in the final by a distance of four lengths. They say ‘success breeds success’ and 1965 is a case in point. As an integral part of the Garda Junior VIII, Sean won the Irish Junior Championship and five weeks later on 17th July 1965 they won the Club’s first Irish Senior VIII Championship title. An unidentified newspaper reported:

Hundreds of shirt sleeved spectators saw Garda Rowing Club achieve a lifelong ambition by winning one of the most coveted trophies in Irish rowing, the senior eights championship, at the Dublin Metropolitan Regatta at Blessington. Ironically the Dublin policemen have to thank their second crew for a win which means that the club has now completed the Grand Slam of every major title during the past 10 years. To the ringing cheers of a packed enclosure, the ‘B’ crew confirmed recent form by beating the club’s first eight by two lengths, with Coleraine R.C. another half a length back in third place. It was a victory without the slightest trace of luck. Opening up at forty-seven strokes a minute, the ‘B’ crew were already a third of a length in front at the 500 metre mark with Garda ‘A’ and Coleraine disputing second place. The gap had widened to three-quarters of a length at the half way stage and by the time the crews entered the enclosure it was clear that nothing short of a sensation could foil the leaders. The ‘A’ crew made their last desperate effort 200 metres out, but it was wasted effort and the reserves flashed past the finishing markers with two lengths to spare.

On 2nd of August 1965 the season ended on a tragic note when Sean was seriously injured in a car accident while travelling to Carrick-on-Shannon Regatta. It was ironic that after playing his part in winning the Club’s first ever Senior VIII Championship, Sean’s rowing career was dramatically cut short and what might have been, never was.

Sean’s indomitable spirit shone through and he returned to work a short time later. He immersed himself in the administration side of the Club and it is no coincidence that the Club enjoyed great success in 1973 under his stewardship as Captain. This was a position he retained in 1975 when he led the Garda Senior VIII to international success when they won the Thames Challenge Cup at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.

The incredible success of Garda crews in the 1970s was matched by Sean’s exceptional public relation skills. He certainly knew how to ‘make hay when the sun shone’ and barely a week went by without a feature article appearing in the national newspapers praising the exploits of Garda Oarsmen. Sean also played a key role as Secretary on the Metropolitan Regatta Committee in the 1970s, during this period the Regatta thrived accepting top class entries from near and far.

In the intervening years the Garda Boat Club has enjoyed peaks and troughs. Sean stayed loyal to the Club and was always close at hand whether it was helping to organise a crew or raise funds for the building programme, Sean was never found wanting.

On 31st December 2013, Sean Kavanagh passed away peacefully at Naas Hospital after a short illness. His Funeral Mass took place at Mount Argus and was celebrated by the Garda Chaplin Fr. Joe Kennedy. Members of the Garda Boat Club past and present provided a guard of honour. His coffin, which was draped in the Garda Boat Club flag, was brought to his native Kerry where he was laid to rest.

Our deepest sympathies to his sisters Marie, Kay & Gretta, brothers Pat, Cyril, Michael & Noel, sisters in law, brothers in law, nephews, nieces, grand nephews, & grand nieces.

He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all of his friends at the Garda Síochána Boat Club.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam


Christmas at the Garda Boat Club, 2013

One would have thought that Friday 13th December 2013 may not have been the most appropriate night for the Garda Boat Club Christmas Party, but any concerns were soon forgotten when nearly one hundred current and former oarsmen and women turned out in the finest of style to celebrate Christmas in the equally stylish surroundings of the newly refurbished Clubhouse at Islandbridge.


The banquet provided an ideal opportunity for Club President Detective Inspector Ciaran Hoey to officially open the newly refurbished function room. While the lack of Garda recruitment has had a knock on effect on the number of Garda crews taking to the water in recent years, the Committee utilised this lean period to channel their efforts into upgrading the Clubhouse. Speaking about the redevelopment, Ciaran said, “To mark the Club’s 60th Anniversary we have completed a refurbishment program with both of our function rooms remodeled to the highest of standards. Our new look Clubhouse, combined with our first class gymnasium & boathouse which was built in 2004, means that we are well placed to take advantage of the new Garda recruitment campaign and to reap the benefits of the economic upturn when it comes”.


Club Captain Damien Kelly welcomed everyone and gave a round up of the fruits of the current oarsmen and women’s exploits. There was a few contorted faces in the crowd as he mentioned tonnage tests and ergo competitions. I’m not so sure that it brought back fond memories for the older members in the hall, but it was great to hear that the crews are preparing well in advance of their trip to Seville in January.


The occasion also provided an opportunity for the Maiden Championship Winning Crew of 1973 to renew old acquaintances after forty years since they first took to the water. The Senior Championship Crew of 1983 were also present to mark their 30th Anniversary since they won the much coveted ‘Big Pot’ at Cosan Point, Athlone. There was even talk about some veterans taking to the water again in the New Year!


As usual the banquet provided by Sidewalk Catering was exquisite and the band played as we danced away into the small hours.


Tribute to Brendan Duane

On Thursday 17th December 2009 the annual Christmas Dinner at the Garda Boat Club provided an opportunity to celebrate the involvement of Brendan Duane with the Club for the past fifty years. A native of Galway, Brendan joined An Garda Síochána in 1958 and retired from Kevin Street in 1988. He was first introduced to the sport of rowing in 1959 as a member of the unbeaten Garda maiden crew that won three championships – Maiden, Junior and Inter-provincial in 1959, before he went on to be a member of the Senior VIII Championship winning crew of 1966. In 1966 Brendan had the distinction of winning the inaugural Dublin Sculling Ladder time trial, a title that he also retained in 1967.

While Brendan’s rowing achievements are something in themselves, it is his record as a coach that is all the more remarkable. He coached Garda crews from 1970 up to the present day including thirteen novice championship, five intermediate championship and seven senior championship winning crews. His record on the international scene is all the more impressive. Brendan, along with Pat Grace, coached the senior crew of 1975 that won the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley, the first Irish crew to win the Thames Challenge Cup since 1903. He went on to coach the Garda elite IV in 1977 and 79 when they won the Prince Philip Challenge Cup at Henley. The only Irish crews ever to have won at this level until Caroline Ryan won the Princess Royal Challenge Cup at Henley in 2008 and once again Caroline was coached by Brendan.

The next step on the ladder is of course World Championships and once again Brendan’s record here is unequalled. Brendan coached the Garda senior IV in 1975 and 77 that won the petite (little) final and was placed 7th in the world and together with Jim Muldoon he coached Willie Ryan and Christy O’Brien when they were 5th in the World in New Zealand in 1978. The only place to go from there was to the Olympics and Brendan Duane is a double Olympian having coached the Garda coxed IV that finished in 7th place in Montreal in 1976 and coxless pair of Willie Ryan and Pat Gannon who also finished 7th in Moscow in 1980. Speaking at the presentation Chief Supt. Willie Ryan said:

Brendan Duane’s contribution to the sport of rowing in Ireland is second to none. He is to rowing as – Alex Ferguson is to football, Declan Kidney is to rugby or Mick O’Dwyer is to gaelic football. He is undoubtedly Ireland’s most successful and influential rowing coach.

On making the presentation of a specially commissioned piece of ‘Bog Oak’, Club President Assistant Commissioner Dermot Jennings said:

Your record as a rower and a coach is undisputed, but it is your interest in each oarsman / oarswoman as an individual that has set you apart from all others.


A Tribute to Brendan Duane

A Tribute to Brendan Duane

The middle of July is normally a very busy time in Irish rowing, with crews returning from the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta and fine tuning for the National Rowing Championships. However, the 15th July 2013 will be remembered by the Irish rowing fraternity as a particularly sad day, owing to the death of Brendan Duane after a short illness. Brendan’s passing marked the end of his fifty-four year unbroken association with the Garda Boat Club, as an oarsman and as an outstanding coach.

A native of Ballinakill, Co. Galway, Brendan joined An Garda Síochána in 1958 and retired from Kevin Street in 1988. He was first introduced to the sport of rowing in 1959 and was a member of the unbeaten Garda Maiden Crew that won three Championships ? Maiden, Junior and Inter-Provincial ? in 1959, before going on to win a Senior VIII Championship in 1966.

Brendan’s rowing achievements are impressive in themselves, but his record as a coach is all the more remarkable. He coached Garda Crews from 1970 up to the present day, including thirteen Novice, five Intermediate and seven Senior Irish Championship VIII winning crews.

His record on the international scene is all the more notable, particularly at the Henley Royal Regatta, the ‘Mecca’ of rowing. Brendan, along with Pat Grace, coached the Garda Senior VIII of 1975 that won the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley, the first Irish crew to win that coveted trophy since 1903. He went on to coach the Garda Elite IV in 1977 and ’79 when they won the international grade Prince Philip Cup at Henley; the only Irish crews ever to have won at this level, until Caroline Ryan won the Princess Royal Challenge Cup at Henley in 2008 and once again Caroline was coached by Brendan.

The next step on the ladder is of course the World Championships and once again Brendan’s record there is unequalled. Brendan coached the Garda Elite IV in 1975 and 1977 that won the petite (little) final and was placed 7th with Jim Muldoon he coached the Garda Coxless Pair of Willie Ryan and Christy O’Brien when they were 5th in the world, and together in the world, in New Zealand in 1978.

The only place to go from there is to the Olympics and Brendan is a double Olympian having coached the Garda Coxed IV that finished in 7th and our Coxless Pair of Willie Ryan and Pat Gannon, who also finished in 7th Moscow in 1980.

In December 2009, Brendan’s involvement with the Garda Boat Club over the previous fifty years was celebrated at the annual Christmas Dinner at the Garda Boat Club. Speaking at the event, Willie Ryan (whom Brendan coached to national and international success) said:

Brendan Duane’s contribution to the sport of rowing in Ireland is second to none. He is to rowing as Alex Ferguson is to soccer, Declan Kidney is to rugby or Mick O’Dwyer is to Gaelic football. He is undoubtedly Ireland’s most successful and influential rowing coach.

Brendan’s coaching philosophy, dedication to hard work and attention to detail helped many oarsmen at every level, from beginner to elite, to achieve their potential. But it was his interest in each person that set him aside from all others. His philosophy of how sport at all levels benefited a person as an individual, combined with his warm and approachable nature made him a respected source of advice and guidance.

While Brendan had a great love and knowledge of many sports, there was only one thing he valued more and that was his family. In a moving and poignant tribute, his son Gearóid spoke at the Funeral Mass and read from a passage of a speech by former American President John F. Kennedy. That passage, which his father had shown him as a child, highlighted many desirable virtues; but Gearóid said he didn’t need to look to President Kennedy for example or inspiration, as he was lucky enough to have a father of the calibre of Brendan.

Brendan’s Funeral Mass, which took place at Mount Argus Church, was celebrated by Fr. Denis Ryan and Garda Chaplin Fr. Joe Kennedy. Members of the Garda Boat Club past and present provided a guard of honour. His coffin, which was draped in the Garda Boat Club flag, was brought to his native Galway where he was laid to rest.

Our deepest sympathies to his wife Noreen, daughter Aideen, sons Kieran and Gearóid, son-in-law Donal, daughter-in-law Emma and grand daughter Eleanor.

There can be no doubt that Brendan’s coaching and teaching philosophy has had a long lasting effect on the many oarsmen and oarswomen that passed through the Boat Club. When one tries to sum up Brendan, the words of Bryan MacMahon in his book The Master come to mind; expressed simply but eloquently: to me a great teacher was simply a great person teaching.


Garda Boat Club & Cycle Against Suicide Function

On Saturday 5th May 2013, the Garda Boat Club played host to the much publicised Cycle Against Suicide Charity Event.  Returning from the final leg of their journey from Dundalk to Dublin, wearing their jersey with pride, the sea of orange was led into Garda Boat Club by Irish celebrities Bressie, Roz Purcell, Colm Hayes and Brent Pope.

The initial idea behind the project was developed by the successful entrepreneur and international businessman Jim Breen, following the screening of a TV documentary ‘The Secret Millionaire’ which showed Jim visiting a suicide awareness group. The Cycle Against Suicide charity cycle event was a huge success as over 4,000 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters participated in the suicide awareness drive which took place over the past 14 days.

The cyclists received an amazing welcome from the hundreds of supporters, backing the awareness campaign which covered 1,400km in total, not to mention visiting 28 schools and colleges around the country, hosting mental health presentations and highlighting the local mental health services that are available in each location where they stopped along the way.

Speaking at the Garda Boat Club, Jim said: “What an amazing last two days! Who would have thought that we were going to get 2,500 people cycling on these last two days alone, considering that our original target for the full two weeks was 1,000 people!

Irish musician and star of RTE’s ‘The Voice’, Bressie, spoke of his involvement with the cycle, “The Cycle has had a massive impact on me personally and the positivity surrounding the cycle is immeasurable. I have been humbled by the stories my fellow cyclists have shared with me and I have been privileged to be able to tell my story to such receptive audiences. It’s time to break the cycle”.

Top Irish model Roz Purcell, who had put her work schedule on hold to participate in nearly all of the two week cycle, said,  “I came on board for Cycle Against Suicide thinking of it as a physical challenge, not realising that what we are doing is changing the way a nation is thinking about mental health. Together, we are starting to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in Ireland and the Cycle has been an incredible part of that change”.

Over eleven hundred supporters turned out for a memorable occasion at Islandbridge with entertainment including four bands, a BBQ, Cheerleaders, BMX stunt riders and much more.


A special thanks to all of the Club members who worked tirelessly on the day.

For further information on Cycle Against Suicide, visit  HYPERLINK “ or  follow @CASuicide on twitter or visit Cycle Against Suicide on Facebook.



This year the annual golf classic was held at Westmanstown Golf Club
on Thursday 12th July, 2012
The winning team was “Coiste Siamsa” Comprised of ( John O Brien, Pat Kenny, Albert Bell & Mick Devine).


Coiste Siamsa
John O Brien
Pat Kenny
Albert Bell
Mick Devine
2. St. Raphael’s
Noel Maher
Dave Moynihan
Martin Murtagh
Mark Rowantree
3. Jackson Court
Phil Kelly
Ed Coogan
John Nolan
Gerry Phillips
4. St. Raphael’s
Luke Lacey
Ronan Hobbs
Neil Hodgins
Gary Moran
5. Coiste Roinne Mullingar
Dominic Flynn
Ml. Walsh
Jim Rock
Roger Nicholson
5. A District
Declan Boland
“Nearest to hole on the 9th green”
5. Peats
Anthony Maher
“Longest driver on 18th”



In the final of the Women’s Novice Sculls event at Neptune Regatta, Sheila O’Brien (Garda) had an easy victory over Trinity (Crowe) Olive Holden (Garda) was beaten by the more experienced sculler from Methodist College. After a close race in the final of the Men’s Intermediate section Damien Kelly (Garda) was pipped on the line by Aidan Harwood who beat Daire MacEoin in a heat earlier.



Following their success at the Galway Head of the River, Garda scullers, Damien Kelly and Daire MacEoin – coached by Willie Ryan had another  win in the Intermediate Double Sculls event at the annual Queens Regatta at Castlewellan on Saturday 28th April by 3 lengths from Queens followed by St Michaels, Queens ‘B’ and Neptune. Nine crews competed. Sheila O’Brien and Olive Holden finished second in the ‘B’ final of the women’s double scull event.



The Annual Garda Inter-District Rowing Championships was held at Islandbridge on Thursday, 4th August next at 6 p.m. followed by a BBQ. Approximately 100 people attended and a great evening was had by all. The winning crew as seen in the photograph were from S.D.U. and comprised of John McCarthy, Jonah Roache, Pat Casey & Declan Quinn. Cup Presented by Chief Superintendent Willie Ryan.




FIRST PRIZE: Westmeath Garda Division,
Joe Kenny, Fergus Traynor, Cormack Nea, Dominic Flynn
SECOND PRIZE: Group 4 Securicor
Brian Sherry, Andy O’Rourke, John O’Donovan, Willie McKenna
THIRD PRIZE: Denis Murphy Catering
Aidan Glacken, John Shanahan, Damien Bartley, Mick Ryan
FOURTH PRIZE: St Raphael’s Garda Credit Union
Gerry Quinn, Alan O’Connor, Dave McKinley, Daire Daly
FIFTH PRIZE: Jackson Court Hotel
Willie Ryan, Mick O’Sullivan, Mick O’Brien, Gerry Phillips
SIXTH PRIZE: Butler Technology
Tom Butler, Flor Butler, Pat Crummey, Eddie Butler
Anthony Maher, Peat’s Wholesale Ltd
Tim O’Mahony, Chief Superintendents Association