Donnacha Attig, who is originally from Chicago but has lived in Ireland most of the time since 1977 and in Donoughmore, Co. Cork for the past 21 years, is taking part in the BOY OF HOPE Charity Challenge to raise money for a brilliant and highly talented boy who was born in India with severe physical deformities.
Donnacha is raising money for ten-year-old Tony, from Tamil Nadu, who he says has a remarkable intelligence and lust for life despite being born with no arms and only one boneless leg.
Official launching of boat will be at Belturbet public ramp, Thursday August 6 at 6:30 P.M. Her Excellency Priscilla Jana, Ambassador from South Africa will officiate.
VENUE: Belturbet launching ramp, close to the bottom of upper lough Erne – public welcome .
Starting July 30th Don (AKA Donnacha) will attempt make the first transit of the entire Erne Navigation in a live aboard boat which has no engine. The beginning of the Erne Navigation is at Belturbet and it ends at Belleek. If successful he will have been involved in rowing the boat and gear, weighing in excess of one ton, over 600 miles in the past 3 years to draw attention to and raise funds for little Tony, who he calls The Boy of Hope. He uses this title for Tony because of all the people from India, Europe and the United States who have had their lives changed for the better through Tony’s influence.
Fund-raising for the BOY OF HOPE PROJECT officially started with a 2007 launch at Cork City Hall by Lord Mayor Michael Ahern.
From left to right in photo below: Ted Owens VEC, Jack Donvan 60 crew member, Lord Mayor Michael Ahern, Don (ADA Donnacha) Attig 71 crew member, Barra O’ Brianin VEC, Kieran Riordan Director In His Footsteps (Registered Irish Charity)
After the launch Jack who at the time had full blown MS for over 20 years and Donnacha became the first crew to make a complete transit of the Shannon Navigation in a live aboard boat WITHOUT AN ENGINE. In doing so they set international benchmark records for endurance and adventure challenges.
Prior to starting one and all told them that this was an impossible task – a nightmare not a dream! The task proved to be diabolically difficult. Many times they were driven into the reeds – once taking almost a day to free the boat. Twice they were dis-masted and eventually had to fabricate a new mast at dockside. On Lough Boderg a squall almost brought the effort to a tragic end – when their over-sized anchor finally caught the boat was less that ten yards from being smashed to kindling wood on the rocks. After a long and exceedingly difficult struggle they finally finished their engine-less transit of the Shannon Navigation. Not content with the records which they had already established the pair went on through the 100 foot descent of the Ardnacrusha lock system and on to the Seaport of Tarbot, establishing more records with each stroke of the oar. They blazed a difficult trail for others to follow – so far none have dared to attempt a duplication of their feat..
Pictures of Shannon Challenge 2007 for the Boy of Hope are below.
An account of Shannon Challenge 2008 can be found at a tab on the top of this page.
The photo of Jack and Donnacha Rowing into Dromineer was taken by Clare Jordan, Commodore of the Lough Derg Rally.
At this point most of the Shannon Navigation was conquered for the first time by a crew rowing, polling and sailing and ENGINE-LESS live aboard boat. On each day when the pair made progress they established new records for others to challenge. (sometimes after a long day’s struggle they had made little or no progress)
At this point the young at heart (old by berth cert) duo had completed the Shannon Navigation and were pressing on to the sea. The impossible was possible – it was a FANTASTIC dream and not an impossible nightmare! (many times during their struggles the attempt had become a living nightmare but perseverance turned the nightmare into a dream full-filled)
While we were at the dock above we watched in awe as Pat and the officers of the IWAI CRUISING CLUB guided the flotilla through the dangerous Limerick maze of bridges, rapidly changing tidal conditions and other hazards in an operation which required the logistics and precision of a military invasion of a hostile coast!
When the above photo was taken Jack and Donnacha had rowed over one ton of boat and gear more that 250 miles over the bottom to make the journey from the beach at Crumungan at the bottom of Lough Allen to Inismagrath Island marker at the top of Lough Allen (the official start of The Shannon Navigation and back down the Shannon system to the Bridge at Killaloe (the end of official Shannon Navigation) and beyond to the Port of Tarbot. At this point Jack received news that his mother was seriously ill and had to rush to her side. Donnacha returned the boat to Foynes where it could be easily taken out of the water for a tow back to Donoughmore in Couty Cork.
During the trip both the engine and motor mount had been left at Omar’s boat shop in Donoughmore so it would be beyond any doubt that the pair did the trip without using an engine.
Because of contrary prevailing winds and many other factors Shannon Challenge 2007 had involved rowing the one ton plus of OMAR’S RIVER BIRD over 90% of the distance.
The flotilla from the IWAI CRUISING CLUB, which had just completed a voyage to Kilrush from Killaloe, were waiting to welcome Omar’s River Bird at the end of its benchmark record establishing voyage. Both the Lough Derg Rally and the IWAI Cruising Club gave Jack, Donnacha and Omar’s River Bird moral and financial support AND honorary status in their 2007 events.