Cork Rose rows in behind breast cancer initiative

A Rose with a passion for rowing has backed plans to set up a special rowing team in Cork for people diagnosed with or recovering from breast cancer.

Cork Boat Club member and Cork Rose, Bríd Ryan, was on the banks of the River Lee yesterday to help launch the recruitment drive for a new Dragon boat team.

Dragon boats are long striking vessels which take up to 20 people to row. They also have a helmsman and a drummer at the bow to keep rowers’ strokes in rhythm.

Dragon Boat rowing teams for cancer patients and survivors have been set up all over the world after medical research in Canada found that repetitive upper body exercise can reduce the risk of developing lymphodema, chronic swelling of the arm, and be beneficial to women who are being treated for breast cancer.

The first such team, ‘Abreast in a Boat’, inspired the setting up of some 150 similar teams around the world, including the Plurabelle Paddlers in Dublin.

Some of its members will be in Cork for a “come and try” event on Sept 22 with a view to setting up the country’s second Dragon boat team.

Men and woman who have been diagnosed with, or who are in recovery from breast cancer, are being invited to try it out.

Anyone who registers and likes it will be included in a rowing team, and given a weekly training schedule.

The initiative is a partnership between Meithal Mara, the Cork ARC Cancer Support House, the HSE’s health promotion department, and the Prince Clinic.

“Dragon boat racing has all the right ingredients for a healthy return to wellness — it’s physical exercise, it is outdoors, fun, and provides support and laughter,” an ARC House spokesperson said.

“No previous boating experience needed and it is open to all levels of physical fitness.”

Shirley O’Shea, a senior health promotion officer with the HSE, urged people to give it a try.

“This is a great opportunity to not only raise awareness of breast cancer but to offer an opportunity to do something positive for women’s health and wellbeing,” she said.

The ‘come and try’ event takes place at 1pm on Sept 22 on the Lapp’s Quay boardwalk.

UCC’s Confucius Institute will also provide a Chinese Dragon boat for the event.

* Email Shirley at for an application form or download it from

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