Open Canoes / Canadian Canoes
Open Canoeing (commonly know as Canadian Canoeing) in Wild Water Kayak Club has been going strong for years. The clubs’ focus has been to encourage people from all walks of life to get out on the water and enjoy the experience. We actively run senior and junior programs throughout the year.
We run river and lake trips all over the country and many of our members have travelled further afield. One such trip is called The Odyssey On The Liffey. This is an annual event which is run by Wild Water Kayak Club, Conor Ryan and Dublin Port as part of National Trails Day. The event is run by a canoe tour starting from Garda Boat Club and making its way down the River Liffey to just before the East Link Bridge. It is intended to be a fun event to bring together canoeists and Kayakers to give them an opportunity to paddle down the Liffey along the historic quays. Normally the trip has a theme and everyone is encouraged to dress up. We normally have some musical instruments like bagpipes and drums which are played as we travel down through the city.
A number of ‘come & try it’ sessions are run during the year for companies and groups. We run a plenty of weekends away during the year some in connection with other clubs. One of the weekends we run is a fundraiser weekend run in Cootehall in the wilds of Co. Roscommon. Our first official weekend in Cootehall started in 2001 which has been a tremendous success over the years.
Arriving on a Friday evening and setting camp (for some it could be their first taste of camping). Saturday morning we set off to explore the Shannon waterways. Spending most of the day on the water we return to our camp to the smell of the BBQ wafting through the air which cooked by our chef. We sit back for the evening and enjoy the good food and with luck some good weather (it is Ireland) and enjoy the sky at night that so many of us miss living in the cities. On Sunday our paddling day would normally finish in Lough Key forest park stopping first on one of the islands for some well-deserved lunch.
We also run ‘Wild Camping’ canoe trips during the year. This is going back to nature and enjoying the Irish countryside. You simply pack your canoe with your camping equipment and your food and set off down a river, canal or a lake. A trip may take two days or a week. A number of Wild Water Kayak Club members have paddled from the River Liffey all the way to the river Shannon using the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal. Other trips have been on the River Boyne, River Nore, River Barrow and many more. We actively encourage our members to follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles when on the water and camping on the river banks.
WWKC’s development program in connection with the Irish Canoe Union (ICU) has encouraged members to go forward to the instructorship program, which has resulted in a number of our members becoming trainee instructors and instructors. With all our training courses, canoeists are encouraged to try all the different styles of open canoeing. With our large network of contacts with other clubs, we have strived to develop open canoeing in Ireland. By members of our club and other clubs sharing information, it has often resulted in something happening on the water most weekends.
Open canoeing in WWKC has a very broad spectrum of canoeing styles. Members are active in Canoe Tripping, White Water, Polo, Sailing, Camping, Rescue, and Racing.
Open canoeist having a large turn out for many of the national races and of course The Liffey Decent. The Liffey Descent is one of the highlights of the year. This race holds a special attraction to canoeists in our club as it passes by our very own Palmerstown weir. The last of the of the well known ‘V weirs’ in the race with it’s one narrow line that has Wild Waters’ rescue crews working flat out giving joyous waves of encouragement and welcomes to all the canoeists who needs it.
A brief history of canoeing
Canoes have been used long before records began. They have developed from simple logs been tied together to dugout canoes (which are made by burning and chiselling logs, which are still made and used to this present day). All types of materials have been used over the years to construct canoes Papyrus, Rush, Bark, Animal skins (our very own Coracle), Timber, Canvas / Cloth and our modern day composite material like fiberglass, plastic, Kevlar and many more materials. The waterways of the planet have been used by hunters, trappers, warriors and adventurers alike to travel along meandering rivers to the great of lakes to Torrent Rivers to crossing seas and oceans.
Western Canoes today normally fall into two categories. The traditional North American wood strip, birch bark and canvas style canoes. We are fortunate that we have canoe builder that still carry on the old ways of making canoes. These stunningly constructed crafts, some so ornate that you want to put them in a glass case for display it almost seems a shame to put them onto the river but the water is their proper home. To travel along a river with tree-lined banks using a paddle you have carved and paddle a traditionally made canoe with their slight imperfections has a unique feel on the water, you can almost feel the history of the canoe, you can almost the hear the songs of voyageurs long past.
The canoeist prayer:
God grant me the serenity to walk the portage trail I must, the courage to run the rapids I can and the wisdom to know the difference.