Clonmel cancer survivors take to the water in new Dragon Boat 'Constance'

Clonmel cancer survivors take to the water in new Dragon Boat 'Constance'

Paddlers take to the River Suir in Clonmel in their new Dragon Boat 'Constance'.

In Clonmel during 2013 a group of breast cancer survivors and friends formed the Suir Dragon Paddlers.  

At that time benevolent benefactors and supportive fund raisers, together with the help and assistance of the Cancer Care Centre, Clonmel, facilitated the raising of the necessary essential funds to purchase a dragon boat, subsequently name ‘Lady Catherine.’

Breast Cancer survivors’ dragon boating is an international movement, inspired by Canadian Sports’ Medicine Specialist, Dr Don McKenzie, who held the belief that this activity would benefit and reassure breast cancer survivors, as it would offer an opportunity for safe, strenuous upper body activity, in a socially sympathetic and encouraging domain.  

Dragon boat paddling continues to offer compassionate support to survivors alongside camaraderie and competition. Further, dragon boat paddling fosters real enjoyment of the silent but enchanting river Suir.  

Besides Clonmel, dragon boat paddling can be found in several venues, including Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Mayo, Donegal, Limerick and Dublin.

 Founder member Fiuza Castineira cuts the celebratory cake at the boat launch.

Indeed, the Suir Dragons, together with fellow dragons from Ireland and abroad, recently participated in the two-day Dublin Hong Kong Regatta, at which the Suir Dragons reached the final on the Saturday competition on September 9.   

Owing to the wonderful generosity and support since the inception of the Suir Dragons, the club has acquired a second boat that was named ‘Constance’, at the  ‘Awakening of the Dragon’ ceremony, on Sunday, September 24.

The chief celebrants at the ceremony were  Peggy Ho and Rev Fr Billy Meehan.  

Also present were  Catherine Carey, Mayor of Clonmel, Cllr Michael Murphy of Fine Gael, and  representatives of the Vintage Club. Dragons from Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford joined in the celebrations.  

The dragon boat is approximately 40ft in length, and holds up to 20 paddlers, facing towards the bow of the boat, and a drummer and a helm.  Synchronization is a key factor in ensuring that the team reaches the finish line.

 The beautiful inscription of ‘Constance’ on the gunwale of the boat was very kindly gifted by Declan of Sign Design Clonmel, and to whom the club is deeply grateful.

   The new boat 'Constance'. meaning constancy and faithfulness.

‘Constance’ a name meaning constancy and faithfulness, is a fitting and appropriate description of, and mode to honour the club’s faithful coach and founding member Mr Constantino Fiuza Castineira. Research urged distinguished Breast Cancer Surgeon Mr Fiuza Castineira, in 2013, to initiate efforts to set up a dragon boat club in Clonmel. Mr Fiuza Castineira perseveres as an assiduous, conscientious and dynamic arbiter for the group, routinely providing training sessions in the Clonmel Rowing Club, and offering unwavering encouragement to the team at regattas. The Suir Dragon Paddlers are deeply obligated to Mr Fiuza for his unflinching support and dedication.  

At the ‘Awakening of the Dragon’ ceremony the Mistress of Ceremonies was Ms Roisin Kiely,  Physiotherapist and one of the founding members of the club, and its present Chairperson. Understood to bring life force and power to the dragon, the ceremony is a significant and ancient ritual and one involving strong religious beliefs.  While the afternoon sun glittered on the entrancing Suir, the joyous laughter and celebration of all gathered there bore testimony to the esteem with which Mr Constantino Fiuza Castineira, the Suir Dragon Paddlers’ coach is held.     

The Suir Dragons will engage in a Bra Chain Link on Saturday October 14, from noon to 3pm at the GAA Pitch Western Road, Clonmel, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Most recent data indicates that the numbers of diagnosed breast cancers in Ireland have gone up 2919 in one year, with 694 deaths from the disease. The club would be delighted if you would come along to support this event.

The team is grateful to all those who offered financial assistance, which lead to the successful foundation of the Suir Dragon Paddlers. The group warmly welcomes breast cancer survivors, family members and friends to their team.  No experience is necessary and flotation devices will be provided.  

The team is now engaged in its winter training schedule, which takes place on Saturdays at 8.15am in the Clonmel Rowing Club. Phone 0873628383 for details.