13 dragon boat paddlers took to the water for the first time at Donegal Dragons ‘Try Something New.’

The event was held at the pier in Donegal Town on Saturday. New paddlers were given an introductory talk and then kitted out with buoyancy aids and paddles. They  then took to the water under the guidance of experienced paddlers, getting a taste of this amazing sport.

They were also treated to delicious home bakes from members who were on hand to chat and to answer questions.

There were lots of smiling faces all around, with many new paddlers signing up as members before they left.


Donegal Dragons was founded almost five years ago by breast cancer survivor Deborah Bonner. She heard about the sport and its benefits for those recovering from breast cancer in a talk given by Jim McGuinness at Relay For Life.

After paddling with the Dublin-based Plurabelle Paddlers, Ms Bonner took the plunge and started a club in Donegal. The rest is history. Buoyed up by great support locally and from the wider dragon boat community, the club now has three dragon boats as well as range of associated equipment and a strong core membership.

Some members come along to enjoy the experience of being on the water and of working as a team. Others who wish to push themselves hard can train at a more competitive level. It is all about what works for the individual.

Indeed, many of the members are breast cancer survivors who say being part of the club played a huge role in rebuilding their lives after cancer.

Breast cancer survivors are particularly welcome to join the Donegal Dragons, though this is by no means the criteria for membership. The club is open to all adults who want to get out in the fresh air, meet new people and enjoy a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.


The aim of the club is to help members improve their physical and mental health through fitness and fun. There is a great sense of support and encouragement, with many saying they have achieved things they never thought possible.

The club motto of ‘Imagine, Believe, Achieve’ has come to pass for many members. For some the achievement has been to travel, to compete, to push themselves beyond their limits. For others, it is simply about getting out in the fresh air, taking on a new challenge or taking the first steps towards rebuilding their lives after a major trauma such as illness or bereavement.

Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to come along and give dragon boating a try. More information can be found on the Donegal Dragons Facebook page or by calling (087) 7752549.


If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.