The Clonmel Workingmen’s Boat Club was established in 1883, at a time when many workingmen’s clubs were being established around the country.
Records for the organisation exist from 1910. And from the records we hold we can see the participation of members in many national activities: in Irish language classes in the clubhouse; in labour, trades and union activities; in National and Irish Volunteers and in local government. Of course boat repair, rowing, fishing and racing was available in the club and this was particularly strong in the early years. In latter years, the club diversified somewhat and carried out a number of fascinating projects including, the River Suir Project (1991), the ‘Celebration of the Suir’ project and of course the conservation of the famous ‘Cruiskeen’ boat (2007).
It is worth noting that as well as focusing on the river and boats, the club carried out a very important social function. Card and billiard playing was carried out in the clubhouse but dancing and dances seem to have been a huge focus of the club. Minutes of meetings regularly contain references to invitations to dances, dancing accounts, the bands used for dances, practice dances and the dances themselves. Through these and other references we also get a glimpse into the local presence of Cumann na mBan. In October 1919, an application was received by the Club from Clonmel Cumann na mBan ‘asking for the use of the club on one evening of the week for the purpose of holding a practice dance’. This followed on from an application referenced in the Minutes of 30th September 1919 to hold ‘an all-night dance’. On this occasion there was some discussion and a Mr. J. Cronin ‘proposed that the application be granted’. However he ‘got no seconder and the application was refused’. While the women had no luck in securing the premises in September or October 1919, the Minutes show us that on many other occasions they used the clubhouse and there was an ongoing and lively interaction between the two groups.
For access to the minutes of the Clonmel Workingmen’s Boat Club please click on the attached link and check in over the next few months for more items highlighted from the club.