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 70 members ranging in age from 30 to 70.
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.
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.
We are based in the South Dock, Grand Canal Basin, Dublin 2 (view map – click 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.
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.
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.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (087) 468 6662. We have dedicated members who are assigned to meet new paddlers at their first session and answer any questions that they may have. View our new members recruitment leaflet.
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.
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.
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)
Training is twice a week from March to October/November on 8:45am Saturday morning and 6:30pm Wednesday evening. 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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve had a great start to 2017 with weekly Pilates and resistance sessions along with two crews on the water most Saturday mornings. Wednesday training starts back 5th April at 6:30pm. This year in addition to local regattas, we are competing in the European Club Crew Championships in France in July.
Plurabelle Paddlers hit the small screen again at the end of October 2016 when ‘Along Home Shores’ presenter, Bobby Kerr trained with us in the first episode of the UTV Ireland programme. Bobby also visited our club house, chatted to some paddlers and found out for himself what makes the Plurabelles such a very special club.
Plurabelle Paddlers’ very own Rhona Nally was on RTE Radio 1 on 27th September to talk to Ray D’arcy about living well with metastatic breast cancer. She even mentioned Plurabelle Paddlers! You can hear Rhona’s inspiring interview here.