The following article was taken from "Kayak" magazine January 1971:


Paul Heade
- Expedition Leader

At 20.30 hours on Saturday 10th October 1970 eight canoeists - ages ranging from 14 to 20 years and all members of 5th Port Sea Scouts, Dollymount, entered the River Liffey at Celbridge, to begin our Liffey Descent by Moonlight.

Each canoeist wore a lifejacket, spray cover and had a waterproofed torch strapped to his chest or head and the canoes were well fitted with buoyancy and had a lanyarded paddle.

After arranging for a support team to follow us by car, we set off in single file. Paul took the lead and Brian was last man. The weather conditions were good, full moon and a sharp wind. Naturally we were feeling a bit excited, as this was our entry for the Scout Associatio, of Ireland Adventure Award and we were anxious to do well, especially as we had won the Trophy last year.

Our first obstacle - Castletown Rapids - took some time as we had to make a number of attempts to find a clear run through. Then began the long tedious journey across Salmon Leap Lake and our support team told us afterwards that we were like a monster glow worm wriggling across the water. At Leixlip Dam it was necessary to portage and we were escorted by an F.C.A. Unit. We had a bit of excitement on the Leixlip Rapids, some of us going down backwards and we were delayed on the job. By now our eyes had become accustomed to the darkness and we made the second portage at the Sluice Weir and our third at Lucan Weir. Excitement was growing at the prospect of Anna Liffey Weir, but we all managed to shoot this very successfully. Our first casualty was at Wren's Nest - our lead canoeist capsized, much to his annoyance, as he dislikes COLD WATER. However, he was back in his canoe within seconds and the rest of us shot this Weir successfully.

By now we were all enjoying the trip and we set out happily for Palmerstown and Glenaulin Weirs, which were shot successfully. Chapelizod Weir caused a halt and after our lead canoeist shot this, the rest of us decided to portage, as there was not sufficient water. The lakes, rapids and weirs section of our Adventure Cruise was now completed and we commenced our 8 mile trek down the river through the city centre and a "reception committee" at O'Connell Bridge showered us with rubbish of all sorts - it might have been worse! We continued to Alexandra Basin and by now the wind had freshened to Force 8. Winds North Easterly, increasing to Force 7 as we came into the open sea. The going was very difficult and we were tiring rapidly, but the thought of a good hot meal and dry clothes at our Headquarters, Crow's Nest, Bull Island, spurred us on. At last we were there and having beached our canoes, ate and changed. We slept like babies from 4.00 hours to 9.00 hours.

Sunday 11th October 1970 and we resumed our Cruise at 10.00 hours - the next section, rounding the Bull Island. We launched our canoe;; from the foreshore close to the Bull Wall and paddled with a Force 7 offshore wind against us and an incoming tide. The sea was very rough and by the time we reached Sutton Creek everyone was very tired. The original plan was to cross to Sutton, but the weather upset this and the leader decided not to go. After a short rest the journey was resumed up the Lagoon. In the meantime the wind had changed and we _found we were still paddling against it. The portage at the new Causeway proved most unpleasant and we had to wade through mud, silt, rusty cans etc. The canoes were launched on the far side of the Causeway and the final stretch of the journey tackled. Eventually we reached our H.Q. at 16.00 hours, tired, weary, but a happy lot.

Afterwards a scale model of the course was built and submitted to the examiners. Much to our pleasure we were declared the winners of the S.A.I. Adventure Award for 1970.

September 1

The following article was taken from "Kayak" magazine September 1971:


Bill Hallowes

Certainly - a "great" in the history of Liffey Descents - water just right and the "Weir that never was" reared its head again causing some consternation among the Irish paddlers who feel a bit put out when new weirs suddenly appear. And imagine over 100 canoes in the Open Singles Class - I was hoping they hadn't parked by Minibus on Straffan Bridge lest it should crumble.under the onslaught.

This year I paddled a K1 for the first time and as ire waited for our start Dave Talbot and I expressed the usual wish that vie here either in our K2 again or a Slalom boat. However, we joined the crowd racing for a good position to shoot Straffan. ::'e planned to shoot down the channel just to the right of the steps - alas, someone :lad parked a tree just there. This threw us off our stride somewhat and we both swam down the weir exchanging comments about trees in general. We then hit the wall below the weir, and have scars to prove it, and joined the merry (?) throng under the tree. The shining hour wasn't improved either when someone said - "Don't tell me you capsized as well!" - so I didn't!

Got the boat emptied out and broke the zip on the spray cover. Had a pleasant run through the trees and shot Temple !,!ills right into a rock. The canoe stopped dead, I shot forward in the canoe and my glasses to the end of my nose. So, leaving some of my bow behind I carried on over Vanessa through Celbridge, where some kind supporters urged me on, and through the rapids onto the lake. Here Martin Kennedy and Frank Tone were kind enough to let me wash-hang and ire passed Chris Hawkesworth and Norman Rowe paddling and swimming in fine style with their K2.

At the dam I had trouble getting out and in through the spray cover; got over. the Sluice Weir 0.N. and started my run up for a broadside shoot over Lucan, looking sadly at a K2 which had capsized in the attempt. "Experience" says -27- I, "that's what they need" and proceeded to show them how to do it. Well, I would have if someone hadn't put that stopper there = so, collecting my glasses, my boat, my paddle and my dignity, I retired to a convenient patch of weeds to sort myself out - that spray cover again - eventually I emerged together with most of the weeds and passed under Lucan Bridge accompanied by a suggestion from above that "I bring a lawn mower next year".

Over Anna Liffey and on to Wren's Nest passing a few divers on the way who seemed to be enjoying the race. I wobbled over the "V", did some recovery strokes at the bottom for the benefit of the crowd and settled down for the run home.

At the bottom of Palmerstown I found a nice pair of Racing Blades just floating in the water and was severely tempted. However, I refrained and left them there, shot the Broken Weir and capsized on Chapelizod. The ignominy of it - Chapelizod of all places - anyway, I emptied out and paddled on to the finish to find a few Red Cross people to bandage my honourable wounds but alas, none could do anything about my damaged pride - Never mind, next year, next year when I get into training !!!

September 2

The following article was taken from "Kayak" magazine September 1971:

12th International Liffey Descent

12th International Liffey Descent Largest headache I've had so far as Racing Officer. I had no idea how much physical and mental labour Ernie put into this event in previous years. Arrangements are never ending. A million little things went wrong at once - e.g. 13.05 Straffan - stopwatches astray in transit ... Cartridges for gun to be used at 13.30 are in Leixlip ... English paddler trying to get away with a buoyancy aid with the buoyancy removed ... Mr. Munroe's uncle's car hemmed in by the I.G.U. Minibus (battery removed to operate the public Address and by Derek's car (no sign of the president anywhere). However, with a little help from friends, especially the F.S.B., the race ran. A thousand lessons were learned and a post mortem meeting of the Descent Committee threw up some recommendations for next year: Engraved medals on ribbons for 1st, 2nd and 3rd presented on Rostrum as in Olympics: Ladies :C2 out: Junior Ladies K1 in: Youth ICI (Under 16) in: Prizes in Open Singles to be 1st, 2nd and 3rd and first lady (apologies to Adele - first Lady home in open singles this year - we forgot you in the rush. These are only recommendations so comments on these and other matters pertaining to the Descent are invited. (Signal for all to grab pens or typewriters - C'm'on, Frank).  

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