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  • Southside

Plurabelle Paddlers push boat out for new members

Wednesday, 27th April, 2016 2:00pm
Plurabelle Paddlers push boat out for new members

Members of Plurabelle Paddlers at their clubhouse.

Plurabelle Paddlers push boat out for new members

Members of Plurabelle Paddlers at their clubhouse.

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A DRAGON boat-racing group, which comprises women who want to get fit after undergoing treatment for breast cancer, is recruiting new members.  

Plurabelle Paddlers, formed in 2010, boasts almost 70 members who meet weekly to train at Grand Canal Dock, Dublin.

Marian O’Dea, co-founder of Plurabelle Paddlers, describes it as a breast cancer support group with a difference.

“In a strange way it’s not really about the breast cancer, it’s about taking control of your body after treatment,” she says.

“The group is about getting fit, taking control and having a bit of fun and doing something totally different because before ourselves there were hardly any dragon boat paddlers in the country.

“Our group ranges in ages. We have quite a few younger women who unfortunately have had breast cancer so we have people in their late 30s to their early 70s and anywhere in between.”

The idea of paSddling to aid recovery from breast cancer came from Canadian doctor, Don McKenzie. “When women were finished their treatment they were told not to lift anything heavy, they were told not to lift shopping or heavy kettles because of the damage that had been done,” explains Ms O’Dea. 

“He (Dr McKenzie) was thinking this can’t be right. If they were given gradual training in upper-body strength surely that would help them, so he set up a clinical trial with a group of women.

“The results of that were very good; it started to change the medical community’s advice to people recovering from breast cancer.”

And the idea has certainly taken off in Ireland with groups springing up around the country from Cork to Donegal. Paddling novices are welcome to join and experience of water sports is far from a prerequisite. 

“We always say there’s room in the boat for everyone no matter why you’re doing it,” says Ms O’Dea.

“If it’s just for a bit of exercise and friendship kind of thing, there’s plenty of members where that’s really all they want. 

“We have members who pop in and out and don’t do a huge amount of paddling and we have many members who unfortunately, because their cancer has re-occurred are not always able to train but sometimes they’ll just come down. 

“We have a clubhouse on the dock so sometimes they’ll come down for a cup of tea after training just to keep in touch.”

Members of the group have travelled internationally to compete as well as competing in regattas around the country in addition.

Following the success of last year’s recruitment drive, Plurabelle Paddlers recently held a ‘try-it-out’ training session for novice paddlers. However, the club is open to new members all year round. For more information, email, phone 087-4686662, or visit

Katie O’Neill

Plurabelle Paddlers has been a big success since its formation.

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