It was summer, 1897, when a bunch of the Parish boys, mainly from Athlunkard street, decided to start a boat club. They were mostly comprised of Shannon and Garryowen players. Each evening for almost a year, men and boys, worked for hours digging in preparation for solid foundations. A one-story clubhouse and boathouse was complete in the summer of 1898. The founders were John Shanahan, Jack Gilligan, Pierce Hartney, Joe Hegarty, Larry Shanahan, William Ahern, Denis Murnane, Richard Hartney, Jim Shanahan, Charlie Harty, Joe Gubbins, Stephan and John Clancy, Tom Bernard, Jack, Thade, Bryan and Joe O’Connor.
Limerick Boat Club became an early benefactor and they presented the new club with a clinker eight and oars.
The senior eights championship of Ireland took place at Limerick Regatta on July 17th 1913, A.B.C had been defeated the day before by Trinity at Cork Regatta and the students were favourites to win the title at Limerick. Watched by up to 20,000 spectators, St. Michael’s lef the race at Barrington’s Pier. Athlunkard, stroked by Tom Earlie passed them and it became a battle between them and Trinity. Athlunkard, defying all odds, beat Trinity by a length and returned triumphantly to Shannon RC after the race.
One of the most memorable races was the Quin Challenge Cup of 1951. Athlunkard won the race by a few feet, beating U.C.D., inflicting their only defeat of the season. At the end of the season, this Athlunkard crew qualified to represent Munster in the Inter-Provincial Championship in Dublin but were beaten three quarters of a length by Ulster in the semi-final.
Despite the financial difficulties of the 1980’s rowing prospered. Billy Meehan became the first Athlunkard oarsman to row for Ireland when he was selected to represent his country at the Home international Regatta in Scotland in 1983. Further international honours came the club’s way in 1985 and 1987 when sisters Maxine and Claire Murphy represented Ireland in the ladies elite pairs at the Home International Regattas having a great win in Nottingham. There was further success for the club in 2013 when Kate Healy was chosen to represent Ireland at the Home International Regatta in Nottingham.
In 2004 David Meehan was selected to row at the Home International Regatta in Nottingham and in 2005he was selected to represent Ireland at the Coupe de la Jenesse in Eaton.
Recent years have brought many more regatta wins to the club with the mens j18 four placing third in the national championships in 2015. The club has also recently refurbished the club house with a brand new gym and core area which is in use by all members.