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Ireland's Canoe Union, so what's that all about then...

It’s always a good idea to get to know about the governing body of the sport we love so much. I wanted to find out more about the Irish Canoe Union so I contacted them and they kindly gave me a brief outline:

Irish canoe union TDU Logo

The Irish Canoe Union

Canoeing in Ireland is a wide and diverse sport, with at least ten types of canoeing being practiced. Seven of these are competitive (slalom, sprint, marathon, polo, freestyle, wildwater racing, surf) with active events at National, European and World Championship level. Two of these disciplines are represented at the Olympics – slalom and sprint. The Irish Canoe Union was formed in 1960 with a mission to “promote canoeing in all its forms” and is recognised by the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland as the governing body of the sport and recreation of canoeing in Ireland.

Aside from the competitive disciplines, canoeing also enjoys great participation as a recreational sport, with thousands of paddlers across the country enjoying Ireland’s rivers, lakes and coastline as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Here the challenge is in the environment rather than other competitors. This is the exploration and adventure side of canoe-sport, with enthusiasts often traveling to remote regions across the globe to push their sport to the next level.

Of these non competitive disciplines it is white water that has attracted the highest participation. Irish rivers provide an ideal training ground for kayakers eager to learn the skills of boat control and river leadership. From the tranquil lowland waters such as the Boyne, Liffey and Barrow to the tight technical creeks of Ireland’s coastal ranges, there are a range of rivers for all levels.

In order to support the non competitive disciplines and promote safety in adventure canoeing the ICU administers an awards and qualifications scheme. The scheme is designed to bring paddlers along a skills progression from level 1 to 5 and to qualify instructors to teach and lead others in a safe manner.

Training deals with the skills needed for independent adventure with a focus on boat technique, river leadership and river rescue and is delivered by highly experienced instructors. Responsibility for the award scheme lies with the Training & Development Unit, whose committee are elected by registered instructors at an AGM. For more information on these awards go to or

Whether pursuing an award or just enjoying personal paddling, good river information is key and the ICU welcomes this new web based initiative. Irish rivers have proved a great launching pad for adventures worldwide and with a rise in the media profile of canoeing (through print, film and internet) this trend looks set to continue.

It is important to remember that rivers can be as dangerous as they are beautiful and maintaining high standards of safety will remain a priority as our sport continues to grow. Therefore, we stress the need to always use appropriate safety equipment, to never paddle alone and to seek out proper training before attempting the rivers in this guide. Finally, we would like to remind paddlers that this is your Canoe Union – please feel free to contact the office for further information.

Enjoy the rivers!

Colin Irvine

Irish Canoe Union
Sport HQ,
13 Joyce Way,
Dublin 13
Tel: 01 6251105
Fax: 01 6251106
[email protected]

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