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Our Lady’s College Galway – A Get Going…Get Rowing Success Story

The below video is an excellent example of how a school, Our Lady’s College Galway, has engaged with Get Going… Get Rowing from the very start in Connacht and grown from strength to strength ever since.

The video is primarily about “Showing Racism the Red Card” as part of a national campaign to stamp out racism, but it also has some great footage of the students rowing. A hugely supportive and cooperative relationship was forged with Galway Rowing Club and, together, both the programme and the club have worked hand in hand with the school to the point of the school now affiliating as a club with Rowing Ireland.

All the girls in the video completed the Get Going… Get Rowing programme, some as TY coaches, others as indoors winners at UL Blitzit and the girls shown rowing at St. Michael’s Head are all a product of the “Breakfast Row” project that was initiated last year to engage the girls with the water experience before school on Friday mornings from March to the end of school term. They are now the racing 8+ shown in the video and are competing at Commercial and Neptune Regattas this weekend, 1st & 2nd April.

Our Lady’s College is Galway’s newest secondary school and is a merger of two great Galway institutions, the Presentation and the Mercy School. Catering for more than 500 girls, the new school’s motto is ‘Excellence Together’. Both schools were fully engaged from the start with Get Going… Get Rowing in Galway in 2014 and since their recent merger into one school, Our Lady’s College Galway, the school has grown from strength to strength in terms of rowing development.

The programme has catered for 1st/2nd and TY years every year for the past 3 years from both schools. The programme was embraced by both schools and both PE Teachers at the time, Michelle Muldoon (Mercy) and Orla Madden (Presentation) were huge enthusiasts of the programme and happily walked the girls down on a weekly basis to NUIG Boat Club for indoor rowing sessions in the hail, rain and snow throughout the school year.

The programme took particular traction since a “Breakfast Morning Row” project was commenced last March to fully engage the girls with the sport of rowing and to set down a clear pathway to joining a club. This meant getting a cohort of girls down to the water before school time on a Friday morning at 7am with the school organising a hot breakfast for the girls once they were off the water just before class time. The Breakfast Row project was instigated by Get Going… Get Rowing’s Connacht Development Officer, Jen Cunningham who felt the transition and retention to club would be greatly boosted by this project.

This would not have been possible without the support of the two School Principals at the time (Cliona Ní Neill; Presentation School and Brendan Lydon; Mercy School), and without the support and backing of the local Galway Rowing Club (Rory O’Brien; Captain, Mike Gaffney and Owen Diviney).

The Mercy School was instrumental in agreeing to facilitate this project and the Principal kindly arranged to have breakfast ready from the school canteen and set aside for the girls just before class. Subsequently, the majority of these girls kept the “Breakfast Morning Row” up throughout their Junior Cert Exams that summer and have grown from strength to strength and remain training regularly together as a crew now competing this weekend at Neptune and Commercial Regattas and rowing out of GRC.

Special mention must go to the tireless efforts of Charlotte Bennett who is the Rowing Coordinator in Our Lady’s College Galway and who has added extra momentum and endless support to the success of Our Lady’s College as the newest rowing school in Galway.

Get Going…Get Rowing co-ordinator in Connacht, Jen Cunningham, says it is the biggest success story coming out of the programme in Connacht to date.