23rd March

Hobblers Challenge in Dublin Bay

J Ashmore

Ringsend-based St. Patrick’s Rowing Club’s skiff Naomh Padraig under the coxswain of Ken Cunningham took line honours in a time of 2:57:36 for the much coveted Hobblers Challenge cup. Courtown Harbour Rowing Club took second place (3:3:19) and third place honours went to Stella Maris Rowing Club (3:16.00). Host club, St Michaels based in the Coal Harbour Dún Laoghaire, passed under the high walls of the East Pier Lighthouse and battery two minutes later in fourth place.


2011 Hobblers Challenge, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin                                                  Photo Gillian Mills

Ten boats from four East coast skiff rowing clubs participated in the end-of-season Hobblers Challenge – a gruelling 25km rowing race from Dún Laoghaire Harbour to the Kish Lighthouse and back.

The race is held in memory of the men known as ‘Hobblers’ who once rowed out to met ships at anchor in Dublin Bay and along the east coast. The first hobbler to reach a ship and land a hook on deck was awarded pilotage and unloading of the cargo.  The trade survived until the 1930s when the last of Irish Sea trading schooners disappeared.

 The skiffs lined-up for the starter's gun opposite the Hobbler's Memorial on the east breakwater and were escorted to the mouth of the harbour by the RNLB Anna Livia.

It was fitting that the 107-year-old ketch Bessie Ellen – a former cargo-carrying vessel representing one of the last such sail-trading ships operating in the Irish Sea – was making passage to the east of the Kish Bank as the skiffs raced towards the lighthouse.

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