Members of the Gráinne Mhaol Dragon Boat Club in action at Lough Lannagh, Castlebar. PHOTO: ALISON LAREDO

Mayo's ‘dragonettes' seek lake jetty

THE future of Lough Lannagh as a hub for dragon boat racing will be boosted by the provision of a floating pontoon at the lake.

Planning permission for the facility has been sought from Mayo County Council

Louise Killeen, one of the pioneers of dragon boat racing in the county, said she is optimistic about getting the green light for the project.

“We are expecting good news in the next few weeks,” Ms. Killeen stated.

The provision of the pontoon will enable women who are members of the Gráinne Dragon Boat Club easier access and egress from their vessels.

At present, the Lannagh boaters have a pair of ornate and colourful vessels at their disposal.

With their ever cheerful, all female crews on board as they glide around the lake, the craft present a wonderful sight for walkers on the amenity path which rings the shoreline.

The women who crew the boats have the common connection of surviving cancer.

Funding of €9,000 - a sports capital grant – is available for the project.

The site for the project, close to the walkway, will be subject to an assessment for archaeological impact.

However, any ecological impact will be minimal.

Four steel rods – camouflaged by timber posts – will hold the pontoon in place.

At the moment the 'dragonettes' depend on an improvised pontoon made from pallets.

Around 50 women from across Mayo have been dragon boating on Lough Lannagh since the first vessel became available almost three years ago.

“Now that we have two boats our teams can compete more often against each other,” Louise explained.

The provision of a pontoon will make it easier for team members to train.

Ms. Killeen says further regattas, which will attract other dragon teams from all over Ireland, are in the offing.

The aim is to make the lake, a virtual stone's throw from Castlebar town centre, a national hub for dragon boat racers.

The gentle paddling motion involved in dragon boat racing is believed to be particularly beneficial for those who have had breast cancer.

Around the world there are reckoned to be some 150 dragon boat teams for women cancer survivors.

Anyone interested in joining the fun can contact Louise Killeen at (087) 2250704.