Beginner’s Guide

Check-out this explainer video from 2016 we did for

Disclaimer: UL students aged 17 can now join the club


Do I need previous experience?

Not at all! Like 95% of our members had no previous paddling experience when they joined the club

Do I need to be able to swim?

No actually! As long as you aren’t very afraid of the water you will be fine. It is likely you’ll get wet at the start but as long as you are okay with being in the water for less than a minute with a buoyancy aid it won’t be an issue

What’s the difference between kayaking & canoeing?

Both activities are similar in some ways, but involve different types of boats, oars, and technique.

A kayak is normally an “enclosed vessel”, with a hole in the middle that you can sit into, stretching your legs out in front of you. The long paddle has a blade on either end, so both ends of the paddle can be used to push you through the water.

Kayaking is a versatile sport, with lots of different activities to choose from. You can go sightseeing, go into the sea, visit waterfalls, and go kayaking on white water rapids if you’re looking for more of a thrill.

For some of the more adventurous activities like kayaking in rapids, you may need a helmet and nose plugs.

Whatever you’re into, kayaking can be a really fun way to get some exercise.

A canoe is different to a kayak because it is normally an “open vessel” that you sit or kneel in. The paddle is shorter with only one blade, and you switch from side to side while rowing to determine your direction.

Canoeing is great for paddling around slow-moving water like lakes or canals. Because of their open top design, some of the more intense activities you can do in a kayak (like white water kayaking) wouldn’t be possible in a traditional canoe, because too much water would get in. However, there are some canoes that are designed for white water rapids, so you could still fulfill your sense of adventure.

What should I bring to a pool session?

Just swimwear and a towel, everything else is provided

I haven’t been at pool sessions for a while, can I still get involved?

Yes of course! We welcome students who have never paddled before at any time of the year and will make you feel as involved as possible.

What should I bring to a river trip, ie Castleconnel?

Similar to pool sessions we provide most gear. We would ask you to bring swimwear, a towel and an old pair of shoes you wouldn’t mind getting wet. Warm fleecy clothes for when you get out of the water are also recommended.

Is it expensive to kayak?

Not at all. The club provides almost all the gear you need and trips are heavily subsidised

Do I need to buy gear?

Nope, the club provides all the essential gear. Clothing like thermals (no cotton) for underneath your wetsuit for whitewater weekend trips would be certainly beneficial but the club will let you know what to bring for each specific trip. Once you’ve done a good few trips you might want to invest in your own personal gear that would be better than the club gear. If that’s the case check out our Gear Guide

Where is the Boathouse?

At the Western edge of the campus alongside the river walk towards the City and behind the Shuman building

What is Outback?

This is the name for the 8km paddle along the Shannon (about 40 minutes or so) from the boathouse down to Corbally Bridge and back where members can do long distance paddling at various times any day of the week. People will regularly take out the long, pointy boats and go for a spin. Keep an eye on the forum for dates and times that people are going out, or if nothing is happening throw up a post yourself and see if anyone is interested in going out. Besides getting easier with a bit of practise, as you get better at forward paddling you will find that river kayaking starts to go a bit better, and paddling out when surf kayaking gets a lot easier. So it’s worth getting out for a long distance session every so often!

Visit Forum Outback page for times

Do you have social events?

Yes! We regularly host social events throughout the year, check our forum for details

Are you affiliated with a Governing body?

Yes, our club is affliated with Canoeing Ireland

Are Mary I students allowed to join?

Yes, Mary I students are allowed to join our club and participate in all club activities. However under UL rules they cannot hold certain committee positions.

Who is allowed to join?

Full Membership: All students currently attending a course at the University of Limerick and all current staff and alumni of the University of Limerick and UL Students Union are eligible to be Full Members of the Club Attending a course for the purpose of the Constitution means pursuing any degree, full-time or part-time and includes time spent on teaching practice, co-operative education, Erasmus and link-in modules. They do not have to be aged eighteen years if they are a full time student.

Associate Membership: A member of the public who is aged eighteen years or over is eligible to be an Associate Member of the Club.

I’ve paddled a few trips and now want to get some of my own gear, where do I start?

Check out our Gear Guide

Weil’s Disease / Leptospirosis

An infection that presents flu-like symptoms spread through that is spread through water which kayakers are especially susceptible too. Everyone should familiarise themselves about the risks of catching Leptospirosis & Weil’s disease.

River Classifications

Whitewater in Ireland is rated on a scale of increasing difficulty from Class 1 to Class 6. This classification system provides a useful guide to the technical difficulty of a river, but there are so many other variables that can have a huge impact on the difficulty or danger of a river.