Rollin’ on the River

Rollin’ on the River

University of Limerick Kayak Club, or ULKC as its commonly known, was founded nearly 43 years ago by a group of friends who loved to kayak. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength, and is now one of UL’s largest clubs. Every year around 250 students with little or no kayaking experience sign up to ULKC, making it the best club for freshers and Erasmus students to join. Whether you are a student in UL already or are new to the university, ULKC are more than excited to welcome new members! From our weekly river trips, active committee and friendly members, you are sure to make friends for life through this club.

Kayaking has become a hugely popular sport throughout the world and in UL too. Whether you have paddled before college or have never seen a kayak before in your life, you will be more than welcome here. You will be guaranteed to be taught how to kayak quicker than you can imagine by some of the best kayakers in the country, who are currently studying in UL. ULKC is currently the best ranked kayaking club in the country, winning our 8th consecutive intervarsity’s title and not planning on letting go of it any time soon. Our club offers you the chance to get away from the tiresome college life, and challenge yourself whilst having some of the most amazing experiences possible. From endless river trips, excellent safety training, social events, to international trips; you will never be short of things to do with ULKC.

Our pool sessions will begin Tuesday of week 2 @9:45pm in the UL Sports Arena. Every week we will be running a weekly river trip for you to get out on the real water. You will get a chance to get outdoors, meet kayakers of all ages and learn unreal kayaking and safety skills. ULKC will teach you all types of kayaking; from white-water kayaking, to surf kayaking, to freestyle kayaking, we have it all!

In ULKC you will get a chance to get to know all our members not just on the water but on our club nights out and on our many, many trips. Our first trip of the semester will be to compete in the annual Intervarsities, this year hosted by UCD. You will get the opportunity to see the best of the best compete different kayaking disciplines first hand and help us win our 9th consecutive intervarsities title! As fun as our weekly river trips are, we have bigger and better trips wedged into our jam-packed schedule. Last semester our paddlers travelled all over the country to get experience paddling, spend time with friends and make the most of their time outside of college work. During the Christmas break the first of our international trips of the year took place. This trip took our paddlers to the cold region of Fort William, Scotland, to allow you to experience the best white-water kayaking Scotland has to offer. However, all of these river trips are there to gear you up for our much anticipated trip to the Alps. Straight after summer exams, you will get the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in the beautiful Slovenian, Italian and French Alps. This will be without a doubt one of the most amazing opportunities you will ever get. Kayaking has taken some of our members around the world both during and after college, and you could get this chance too. ULKC has had members go kayaking in Uganda, Montenegro, California, Norway, Canada and many more places.

If you would like to be a part of our club and add to your college experience, then come talk to us at the recruitment drive on Wednesday of week 1 and we can answer any questions you may have. You can call into the pool to us any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night @21:45-22:45 too. Feel free to contact us on our Facebook page ‘University of Limerick Kayak Club’, our email [email protected] , our our Snapchat ‘ULKAYAK’.


Pool Sessions

Pool Sessions

We run Pool Sessions every week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at 9:45-10:45pm in the UL Sport Arena 50m Pool for beginners , intermediate and advanced paddlers. Come along any night and learn something new be it learn to capsize, roll or even learn some tricks. It is a great learning environment in warmth of the pool. See you there !!

Wild Wales in Winter 2017

Wild Wales in Winter 2017

The trip started as it went on, nineteen paddlers, waking at a ridiculous hour all in the name of the glorious sport we call kayaking. With the vehicles packed and ready to go we left from UL with excitement and encouraged by members who had gone before that it’s some of the best paddling we’ll ever do. The trip to the fabled Jesse James Bunkhouse consisted of a lot of sleeping and wondering why Welsh has such a lack of vowels in the language.

Upon arriving we were left loose on the rooms to choose our beds for the week. It was a tough competition where friendships ran thin and the scars resulting from it can still be seen today. After a quick trip to the local paddle shop and an early night we were truly settled in to our new surroundings in rural Wales.  The next few mornings the early risers of ULKC were most definitely rewarded by what they found at the river.

The question of why go to Wales in the middle of winter was without a doubt answered by the wonder that is the River Dee. A river that suits all levels of paddling. One of the best places to practice beginner skills and has the famous ‘Serpent’s Tail’ rapid for those who wanted to push their paddling to the next level. As the week went on there were repeat trips to the Dee along with trips to the Afon Llugwy and the mighty Tryweryn. Amidst all this kayaking we took a rest day under the surface of the earth to an underground trampoline cavern. A scene to make our own trampoline club jealous.

Sinead Ní Raghaill on The River Dee in Wales Photo credit Eoghan Calnan

Sinead Ní Raghaill on The River Dee in Wales Photo credit Eoghan Calnan

It’s safe to say after a week in Wales nineteen paddlers were truly introduced to a ULKC international trip. After the long journey home, the tired but enthusiastic group cleaned the boats and made their best attempt to merge back into normal society. For many it was their first international kayak club trip but I doubt it will be their last.

2016 Wasn’t All Bad

2016 Wasn’t All Bad

2016 has definitely gotten a pretty bad name for itself for a lot of reasons, to the point that I’ve seen books solely about why it’s the worst year ever. For those of us lucky enough to be involved in ULKC though, apart from a lack of rain I think there were a lot of good memories created this year, ones that have me excited for what 2017 has to offer. As we’re about to close the door on the past year I wanted to throw together this defense of 2016, a year in review through my eyes.

If I somehow wrote up all that ULKC’s members managed to do in the past year it would be far too long to read with trips all over Ireland, the Alps and people competing in Germany and Scotland so instead I’ve chosen five moments that have stood out to me. Five times that I was reminded of all we get out of this club. So, in no particular order, and without further adieu…

  1.    #7InARow

When UL won the kayaking intervarsity’s in 2010 I doubt anyone expected that trophy to be staying as long as it has. During my first year in the club I remember seeing how much it meant to both current and past members to win and although I didn’t fully appreciate the effort that had gone in it was clear that this was something to be respected.

Thanks to preparation and training, last February we saw the current club do those who came before them proud again in trying to continue the legacy. With all our work it’s still always a tight race though and the final awards ceremony can be an nerve-wracking experience. When the work paid off and the results were announced it was emotional for some, relieving for others and isn’t a moment those who competed with us will forget soon. For me it made me very proud to see our members commitment pay off and have them rewarded for it.

#7InARow - Photo by Oisín McHugh

#7InARow – Photo by Oisín McHugh

  1.    Island Camping Trip

This one might just be the Scout in me talking but our now annual island camping trip has become a highlight for me. 25 of us left the technology aside,  paddled out, cooked on an open fire, sang songs and slept under the stars. It’s always nice to introduce the less outdoorsy to this kind of trip and I love seeing how easily people bond while there. As long as we’re as blessed with the weather next year it’s not one to be missed.

The View From Our Island

The View From Our Island – Photo Adam McEvoy

  1.    40th Anniversary Weekend

So much to say here. Seeing 40 years worth of the clubs legacy makers return and meet old friends again. Watching over 100 people make their way down Castleconnell, some of whom hadn’t paddled in years. Getting to be a part of such a well planned ball that evening and speaking to the captains who led the club to where it is now and formally thank them all together. Everyone got something from the weekend with multiple people getting back into kayaking because of it and many meeting old friends again. For me though I would describe it as inspirational. Inspirational to see such a big event pulled off so professionally and inspirational to speak to the people who drove the club to being as renowned as it is. Personally awarding the mementos to the captains is a memory that will stick with me for some time.

The Captain's Memento - Photo by Oisín McHugh

The Captain’s Memento – Photo by Oisín McHugh

  1.    Alps – The Middle Guil

Running the Middle Guil was the highlight of the advanced runs in this year’s Alps trip for me. It was the run that brought together everything the group had been learning and provided a good test of peer paddling for everyone. In the group I saw people take on responsibility within the group, take everything slowly and safely as they were always taught to and saw safety setup and rescues dealt with exactly as you would hope for. It made the time working on those skills all worth it and hopefully means good things for the future having these people to pass it all on.

The Middle Guil - Photo by Gavin Sheehan

The Middle Guil – Photo by Eoin Howard

  1.    Teaching, Teaching, Teaching

The fuel that keeps the club going. It’s a satisfying thing to teach someone a skill and have them pass it on to others right away, and in a sport like this where there’s always something to learn the more we’re teaching the bigger and better the heights the club can reach. Luckily this one’s not just boiling down to a single moment, instead it was seen on all the trips, and that’s something to be proud of the club for. It is the quick conversion of students to teachers that got us to where we are now and it’s what decides where your heading years down the line. The Castleconnell trip in the photo below had 25 people on it, all there to learn, be that learn to paddle or learn to teach and it’s trips like these that I love being a part of, where you can really see the difference you make as you teach.

A Sunny Castleconnell Trip – Photo by Eoghan Calnan

So that’s it, sort of. Being captain of this club has given me the opportunity to be involved in everything and it gives me so many reasons to be proud. I haven’t even touched on this year’s huge river clean up, our fundraiser for Limerick Marine Search & Rescue with the help of Get West, the volunteering by our members at the Sean O’Sullivan Memorial Swim and Hell of the West triathlon, people placing in multiple competitions and races around Ireland and internationally, our first club Olympics, our pool parties and of course our internal awards where we named the most improved fresher’s and awarded those whose attitude has stood out to us.

There is constantly something to look forward to, and everywhere you look there is learning, teaching and the transferring of our growing passions for this sport. So to everyone who has been a part of this huge year, Thank You, none of this would be possible without you and it’s because of you that I’m so excited for 2017. If anyone’s looking for a last minute resolution; you will never regret giving back to the club, getting out there and being a part of these experiences as much as possible and adding to them in whatever way you can will give you a lot to be proud of and a lot to be happy about. Happy New Years everyone, get out there and make it a great one.

By Brian O’Mahony

Surf, Donald Trump and a Whole Lotta Kayaks. ULKC Lahinch Trip 2016

Surf, Donald Trump and a Whole Lotta Kayaks. ULKC Lahinch Trip 2016

It was that time of year again. The time of year for the kayak club to make its yearly pilgrimage to the seaside village of Lahinch, Co. Clare. Some say UL kayakers have been going to Lahinch since before kayaks began. Other more learned people say it’s closer to the last 30 years.

The weekend started at our own boathouse with a flurry of last minute packing of boats, wetsuits and enthusiastic but nervous new kayakers. With everyone piled onto three buses and what seemed like 100 head counts we were on our way west to Lahinch. The hour and half journey felt like so much less than that with songs being sung and stories being told for the entire journey. By the time the hostel was reached everyone was assured of exactly what the hole in the Rattlin bog contained.

A game of room roulette divided up the beds to ensure that everyone was making friends with someone new. The night continued with name games and after an exhausting night of getting names wrong everyone dropped away to bed with dreams of surfing some of the best waves in Ireland.

Saturday morning most of the kayaking contingent was woken by a Leitrim man with an eagerness to kayak beyond our understanding. Soon everyone was fed, geared up, and rearing to go. We got into our kayaks, and after a prolonged struggle to shimmy off the sand everyone was tackling or being tackled by the best waves Lahinch had to offer. A variety of skill was on display for the Lahinch locals but we didn’t mind one bit. Everyone managed to surf a wave by the end of the session and that gave all the instructors a warm fuzzy feeling walking back up the beach at the end of the day.

Saturday night was spent dressing up as every and any kind of criminal and heading to the local nightclub. We had some questionable costumes but ones that stood out for me were Donald Trump and Team Rocket from Pokémon.

Sunday morning, we tackled more Atlantic coast waves after a lovingly cooked breakfast. Everyone was determined to improve on the previous days surfing performance. It was a real pleasure to see so many beginner kayakers improve between the two days and get hooked on the sport of kayaking.

The journey home to limerick was a more relaxed affair with everyone being able to sit back and take in what a great experience the weekend had been. The trip was concluded with a mass clean-up of all the gear and everyone went home for a well-deserved, and probably long awaited, good night’s sleep!

It was an absolutely amazing weekend. I hope you all had as much fun as I had. I can’t wait to see everyone for our next trip.

By Tom O’Brien PRO

Lahinch 2016

Photo Courtesy of Eoghan Calnan