A week of fun for the whole family

Organised jointly by the Athlone Branch and the Carrick on Shannon Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), the Shannon Boat Rally is the most prestigious and well-attended boating event on Ireland’s inland waterways. The main objective is to bring boaters of all types, from all over Ireland and beyond, together to participate in a nine-day-long fun event for families and friends on the River Shannon.

From its origins in 1961, the rally has grown in popularity every year attracting up to a hundred boats annually crewed by over four hundred adults, teenagers, and children who participate in sports, games, water and boating competitions, quizzes, talent, and music events while improving their boating skills and safety practices on our waterways. The spirit of the rally is to bring boaters of all experiences together to share in a common purpose to enjoy the waterways, share boating know-how, and improve one’s boating skills. The rally has attracted many boaters to our inland waterways and promoted the development of facilities along the navigation as well as bringing a great dynamic and valuable business to the towns and villages along the river and lakes. The rally also encourages responsible use of the waterways for the benefit of all waterway users and has a strong educational and safety theme throughout.

The Ethos of the Rally

Safety on the waterways is of prime concern with a health and safety officer and child safety officer appointed. A range of equipment is supplied for the event such as an emergency fire pump, communications equipment for harbourmasters, and high visibility clothing for key officials. In addition, the RNLI attends rallies year on year with life jacket checks for participants.

In addition, part of the ethos of the IWAI and consequently the Shannon Rally is the education of water users to care for other water users, being conscious of your wake, speed limits, wearing of life jackets, maintaining the rules of locks, and courtesy to other water users such as anglers, sailors, swimmer’s, kayakers and all water users. The rally contributes to the local economies of the towns and villages up and down the river, Tarmonbarry, Rooskey, Lough Key, Boyle, Ballinasloe, and Shannonbridge, Tarmonbarry, Dromad, Kilglass, Grange, Drumsna Banagher, Lecarrow, Roosky and many more.


The Shannon Rally always welcomes newcomers to the rally with a special newcomer award, trophies for those on a hire cruiser, or those that travelled down the Erne, Royal or Grand Canals or overseas. New ralliers are made very welcome and everyone is encouraged to take new families under their wings and introduce them to fellow ralliers and involve them in activities. Over the past 60 years people have built up long-lasting friendships that spans the generations. A strong focus on family activities and fun for all ages are at the core of the Shannon Rally. It is very common for three generations of a family to come along on a rally. The rally is an outdoor event with a strong sustainability ethos both in terms of the natural environment and our heritage. This manifests itself in an environmental award and regular heritage walks and talks increasing awareness among those on the rally.


During the rally, we run a variety of competitions. These competitions are safety based and are designed to help you and your crew to learn or improve your boating skills. They are not compulsory, but we do advise you to take part in anything you can as you will learn valuable skills.

There are 7 “starred” competitions that participants and the crews are invited to compete in during the week. These 7 competitions are Man overboard, Navigation, Mooring, Rescue of a Cruiser, Boat Inspection, First Mate, and Timed Reliability. Participants will be awarded points out of 100 for each competition they enter. The Premier Award is awarded to the boat that receives the most points in these 7 competitions.

There are also class awards for Open Boats, Motor Cruisers under 34ft, Motor Cruisers over 34ft, Sailing Cruisers, and Barges. There are environment, newcomer, canal visitor, merit awards, and an award for those who exemplify the rally spirit. These competitions are hotly contested year on year culminating in an annual award dinner where the coveted Premier Award and a range of over twelve trophies are presented.

Many of these competitions originated in the first rally with some new additions, for example, the rescue of a cruiser was introduced in 1965. There is a range of ancillary competitions which crews can take part in throughout the week such as Ladies’ Boat Handling which was first run in 1969. It was not until 2008 that Men’s Boat Handling was introduced. Other competitions include the Young Mariner where ralliers of the future compete and are awarded a merit certificate. There are also lots of other competitions such as Sailing Dingy Races, Crewmanship, Line Heaving. We also have lots of prizes to be won at fun events such as the Talent Competition, Fancy Dress, and the much-loved Commando Event involving all the family.


boats moored for rally
boats and water acrivities