The All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships may well return to Donegal next year.
More than 2,000 rowers and at least as many supporters came to the Lakeside Centre, Ballyshannon for the event, leaving an estimated €1m boost for local businesses in their wake.
The feedback has been resoundingly positive, with the PRO of the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation, Mary B. Teahan saying it was "one of the best championships ever" and describing the Donegal experience as "magical".
Twelve local clubs and many crews made it through to the finals on Sunday, in U21s, Mens and Ladies categories.
Seamus Maguire of Donegal Bay Rowing Club, which hosted the championships, told the Democrat that there have already been preliminary enquiries about bringing them back next year.
"The big news is that they want to come back and that's without us having great weather. Friday was terrible but because of the facilities we had, the venue still stood up and that was impressive in terms of organisation.”
Thankfully, the rain held off on both Saturday and Sunday. Big crowds of spectators made their way to Ballyshannon and there was also a great turnout at the Donegal Bay Maritime Festival, organised by Events Against Suicide, in Donegal Town (See pages 30-31).
"The feedback from everyone - the clubs that took part, the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation, and local businesses and tourism providers - has been fantastic. That's all we're getting, that the venue, the welcome, the nightlife, the restaurants, were excellent and the championships should be held here again next year.
"We're absolutely delighted, especially as we're not a particularly big club. We're just a group of very committed, deterimined individuals. Everybody was running off 2-3 hours sleep and then competing as well: it was an incredible effort."
To top it off, Donegal Bay Rowing Club won the Federation's Sporting Club of the Year Award, which was announced on Sunday.
Mary B Teahan, the Federation's PRO commended the them. "It was a magical weekend, held for the first time in county Donegal,” she said. “The organisers hosted one of the best weekend’s coastal rowing championships ever.
“The conditions, venue, organisation, level of volunteers and Donegal goodwill and banter was just incredible.
“The quality and standard of racing was extremely high. Speed and efficiency was the order of the day, for any crew to make it to the final was a huge honour.”
Seamus thanked members of local clubs who also helped with running the event, as well as the Lakeside Centre, Erne Enterprise, Donegal County Council and Fáilte Ireland for all their support and assistance.
A decision on next year's venue is expected to be announced within the next fortnight.