Major river sporting events in Fermoy cancelled due to weir damage

Government inaction over a crumbling weir has led to the cancellation of one of the country's best-known rowing regattas and also a popular swimming race.

Major river sporting events in Fermoy cancelled due to weir damage

Government inaction over a crumbling weir has led to the cancellation of one of the country's best-known rowing regattas and also a popular swimming race.

The depth of water upstream of the weir in Fermoy, Co Cork, has become so low the local rowing club is unable to safely launch its boats.

The club said it's the first time in living memory that Fermoy Rowing Club is cancelling its annual regatta which takes place at the end of June and normally attracts more than 2,000 competitors and their supporters to the town.

Meanwhile, the course and speed of the river have reportedly changed due to the continued collapse of the weir and, as a result, the Blackwater Triathlon Club is also cancelling The Great Blackwater Swim, which was scheduled for July 6.

Paul Kavanagh, the rowing club's regatta committee secretary, said the club had "no option" but to cancel the event as damage to the weir had resulted "in the lowest water levels on the regatta course in living memory".

He said the committee had tried to find a temporary solution, including suggesting a floating barrage being put into the river to increase water levels.

Various government departments have been asked by the county council, as yet to no avail, to fund a €3m project to reinstate the weir.

“It’s a very sad day for rowing and for Fermoy.

"We can barely get one of our own boats onto the river for training. The safety of visiting oarspeople and our own was paramount in making any such decision," Mr Kavanagh said.

He said the club will continue to petition all relevant government ministers, Oireachtas members, MEPs and county councillors in an effort to bring about "a commonsense solution".

Blackwater Triathlon Club has issued a statement saying the cancellation was "on safety grounds".

The club said that since the weir started collapsing, the flow of the river upstream and adjacent to Castlehyde has increased and changed.

"It is now flowing faster and more in the direction of the rock that sits above the water up towards Castlehyde House and so the decision has been made to cancel the swim on safety grounds," the statement added.

The triathlon club said it had informed all entrants to the race and their entry fees have been refunded.

Cllr Noel McCarthy, meanwhile, said he was devastated as the cancellation of two hugely popular events would have an economic impact on the town.

"Fermoy relies on such events because there is huge footfall in the town when they're on. The issue with the weir can't be left to continue like this," he said.

"I will be raising this matter again when the newly-elected county council has its first full meeting next Monday."

He pointed out that there was also a great deal of concern about the future of angling in the town.

The fish pass on the weir is also in a very poor state of repair. Salmon anglers have expressed fears fish will be unable to get upstream to their spawning grounds and this will further damage tourism.

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