Killaloe Sailing Club is situated on the shores of Lough Derg, just outside Killaloe in County Clare. It is an Irish Sailing Association (ISA) affiliated dinghy sailing club, in existence since 1963.
The club was founded by a few Limerick sailors who were keen to start dinghy racing on Lough Derg at Killaloe. The idea emerged at a Food and Wine Society “Oysters and Stout” party in the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis in November 1960. The founders were brothers, Brendan and Denis McMahon, Hugh O’Donnell, Jack Lynch, Martin McGuire, and Hector Newenhan.
They decided they would all buy or build the same sailing dinghy, the Enterprise, and the first boats arrived in Summer 1961 and were based at the Lakeside Hotel, Killaloe which was owned by Hector Newenham. Hector’s uncle George Newenham became the Club’s first Commodore. ‘Uncle’ George kept a motor cruiser at the Lakeside Marina which was used as a committee boat and for towing dinghies up to the lake and home again.
In 1975, some Enterprise sailors decided to switch to the new Laser dinghy and eight new Lasers were purchased from the Performance Laser factory in Waterford at a cost of £290 each, giving the Club an instant fleet of modern exciting dinghies.
In the late 1970s, to cater for the growing membership, the Club acquired a small site of about one tenth of an acre near to TwoMileGate from Clare County Council which gave sailors direct access to Lough Derg.
The club was very successful at the time with 100 active members and regularly 20 boats on the water for an evening’s sailing. Numerous regattas were hosted here in the early years, including the Laser Westerns and the annual Laser Team Racing, with visiting sailors from as far away as Scotland.
In 1986, with a large membership and little space, the club moved to its present location – a beautiful three acre site on Lough Derg, off the R463 between Killaloe and Scariff and adjacent to the Lough Derg Holiday Village. The purchase of this land was entirely funded by the work of the club members, with no outside financial assistance. Despite this, the club declined from the 1980s and remained a very small operation through the 1990s, until 2003 when an interest in Fireball dinghy sailing was rekindled.
By 2010, the club had grown to include 20 single and 17 family memberships, however this number declined in 2011 to just 10 single and 16 family memberships due to members relocating and other personal issues.
In 2012, the club received Leader funding to enable it to purchase a number of boats, wet suits and buoyancy aids. This enabled membership to be opened to people in the community, enabling them to access this sport, without the need to invest upfront in equipment. An investment in safety boats and equipment was also made.
By 2013, through the enthusiasm of a passionate Commodore and committee, and with the benefit of the Leader funding, the club grew to 70+ memberships, around 220 members, from all walks of life, including many family members, who today play a very active role in the club. All through these years, members had managed with a paucity of facilities – no electricity, an old portacabin to change in and a single shared toilet.
Even so, the calendar of activities grew year on year and following approval as an Irish Sailing Accredited Training School in 2017, summer camps for children were introduced together with regular coaching sessions and Adult Training weekends. This has helped the club grow and expand in recent years.
Also in 2017, the club applied for planning permission for development of permanent on-site facilities including changing rooms with showers, a common room, larger boat shed, training area, enlarged dinghy park, a new carpark and all the related services. Planning permission was granted in 2018 and fund raising to support the development commenced in earnest. Leader funding of €400,000 was secured through a co-operation agreement between the Clare and Tipperary Local Development Companies. Together with support from Sports Capital and the Tomar Trust, this has enabled the building project to progress and this is due for completion in early Summer 2022.
The membership currently totals around 300, with members drawn from the local area of Killaloe/Ballina and surrounding counties of Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. The Club is open to anyone with or without a boat who is interested in learning to sail or improving their sailing abilities.
Killaloe Sailing Club is a members club. It is not a commercial venture. It is a non-profit making organisation, formed purely to advance the ethos of sailing for all and enjoyment of Lough Derg
Click below to download a mesmerizing detail of an account of the beginnings of Killaloe Sailing Club by one of the Club founders, the late Brendan McMahon. RIP. It is fortunate that Brendan, a timber merchant in Limerick, was such a meticulous note keeper.