FAQs

When did the Plurabelle Paddlers group start up?

The group started in 2010 when Fiona Tiernan and Marian O’Dea got together and decided to form a women’s Dragon Boat team. They sought funding from the Health Services Executive and Breast Cancer Ireland to fund two Dragon Boats, Anna & Livia. The group has gone from strength to strength and now has over 80 members ranging in age from 30 to 70 plus.

What is dragon boating?

Dragon boating is a team watersport which originated in China centuries ago. In 1995, Dr. Don McKenzie, working in the University of Columbia launched “Abreast-In-A-Boat”  He wanted to research the effects of repetitive upper body exercise in women treated for breast cancer. At the time it was thought that this kind of exercise might worsen lymphoedema (a swelling of the arm that may affect some women after surgery). His study involved 25 women and none of the women monitored lymphoedema became worse and no new cases of lymphoedema were reported. The use of Dragon boating as a means to help women (and men!) with breast cancer has now grown to 150 teams worldwide, including teams in Cork, Waterford, Clonmel, Donegal, Belfast and Mayo.

What are the benefits of dragon boating?

It’s a great way to get active, fit and healthy! Studies have also found that a gradual programme of upper-body exercise in those treated for breast cancer can help improve movement to the area of surgery and/or radiation.

Where are you based?

We are based in the South Dock, Grand Canal Basin, Dublin 2 (view mapclick on map to enlarge it). We store the boats near the slipway (where the Viking Splashworld amphibian boats enter the dock). Our clubhouse is the last building on the other side of the dock.

Do I need experience to join?

No experience is required. We were all newcomers to the sport and we have new people trying it out on an ongoing basis. You will be shown how to use the paddle before you go out in the boat.

When can I start after treatment?

We recommend a minimum of three months after completing treatment before paddling. You should take medical advice before taking up exercise. You are always welcome to join us in the clubhouse after training for a cup of tea before the three months are up.

Whom do I contact if I want to give it a try?

Email newmembers@plurabellepaddlers.com. We have dedicated members who are assigned to meet new paddlers at their first session and answer any questions that they may have.

What equipment do I need?

You don’t need any equipment to try it out as you will be given a buoyancy aid and paddle for the session. It is best to wear clothes that allow you to move freely. Avoid “plant” based materials such as cotton or linen (especially jeans) as they tend to hold water when wet. Bring a rain jacket if you have one and a change of clothes as we tend to splash a bit when learning how to paddle! A small bottle of water is also a good idea – paddling is a form of exercise, so it is best to stay hydrated.

What happens if the boat capsizes – do I have to be a strong swimmer?

The boat is very stable and is unlikely to capsize. The helm pairs people of equal weight and ensures the boat is well balanced before taking the boat out. The helms are all trained to a high standard (Irish Dragon Boat Association) and are very capable. In the unlikely event of a capsize, the buoyancy aid will keep you afloat and enable you to reach the dockside. Once a year, the coach organizes a planned capsize drill to give people a chance to experience what it is like.

Who coaches the team?

The team is coached by Julie Doyle. She is a member of the Great Britain Dragon Boat racing team, and now lives in Ireland.  Julie is the Chairman of the Irish Dragon Boat Association (IDBA), which is the governing body of the sport of dragon boat racing in Ireland. If you want more information on the IDBA, have a look at their website (www.dragonboat.ie)

How often do you train?

Training takes place every Saturday morning at 8.30am and also at 6.30pm on Wednesday evenings (Spring & Summer months). You decide when you want to come and there is a system in place to “sign up” for the sessions. It makes it easier for the person who is helming the boat that day to plan the session. If you decide to become a member you will be given access to the Teamer system, but you don’t need to think about it initially.

What does it cost to become a member?

The membership fee is €90 euro for the year. We try to cover our own costs as much as possible and this fee covers clubhouse costs, insurance, replacement and equipment. You are welcome to come along for two sessions and then decide if you want to join.

Is there medical supervision?

Ailish Daly from the Beacon Hospital gives us advice but there is no medical supervision at the training sessions. We take the approach that each person is responsible for their own well-being so if you feel tired you can do a half session or if you are in the boat and feel you can’t continue paddling, you just stop and take a breather.

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a swelling caused by damage to the lymph system and can occur for a number of reasons.  In those treated for breast cancer it may develop in the arm or around the area of surgery or radiation. We advise that our members with lymphodema wear a compression sleeve when paddling.

News & Events

  • Supporting the Irish Team at the Europeans

    We’ll be cheering on the Irish Women’s Senior Team at the EDBF European Nations Championship in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany on 23rd -26th August.

    Good luck to all of these amazing athletes, particularly to the Plurabelles on the team. We’re so proud of you!

  • Florence Forever!

    What an amazing trip it was… it will be remembered forever by the Plurabelles who travelled to Italy for the 2018 BCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival.

    Over 3,500 paddlers and over 120 teams converged on the magnificent and beautiful city of Florence for this HUGE event.

    It was truly a celebration of dragon boat racing… and a celebration of life! (click here for small selection of pics)

  • Wakey, Wakey Anna II and Livia II!

    Plurabelles officially woke up Anna II and Livia II – our second generation of boats – on Saturday, 30th June. Anna Livia is the name given to the personification of the river Liffey and James Joyce named his heroine in Finnegans Wake, ‘Anna Livia Plurabelle’.

    Waking the Dragon is an ancient Chinese tradition and the MC – our own Tara Byrne – explained the rich symbolism behind the custom.

    During the ceremony, the tips of the dragon head horns were painted to bless the world with peace and harmony. The tongue was painted to bless the crews with winning spirit and, having uncovered the eyes, they were painted to awaken the dragon.

    Offerings were also made representing five elements & compass points. Joss sticks represented wood and the East. Flowers represented metal and the West. Candles represented Fire and the South. Water represented its elemental self and the North. Finally, fruit represented the earth and the Centre. See photos of the day (which culminated in food back at the clubhouse!)

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In Assciation with Breast Cancer Ireland and the HSE