Sport’s beauty, too, is in the eye of the beholder

A narrow view of ‘sport’ can often leave the potential enthusiast thinking there is nothing to do. There is always something to do, that’s the beauty of this sport life.

A narrow view of ‘sport’ can often leave the potential enthusiast thinking there is nothing to do. There is always something to do, that’s the beauty of this sport life.

By Colin Regan

One of the first things my class did in when I was studying my Masters in Sport Management in UCD last year was to engage in a debate about what sport was. For some it was a more formal concept – organised activity involving rules and competitions that resulted in a clear winner. For others – including myself – it was a more informal idea of activity engaged in for mental and physical enjoyment and stimulation.

Of course that led to the inevitable debate around sports such as darts, snooker or shooting. While there isn’t a lot of physical exertion required in those activities there is considerable skill involved. As far as I’m concerned if it floats your boat and gets you out of a chair then it’s a good idea.

My favourite craze at the moment and something I’m dying to try out at home is bouldering. It’s a form of rock climbing limited to very short intensive climbs over boulders that have a ‘crash pad’ or ‘bouldering mat’ so if you do take a tumble it won’t be too far down. (I forgot to mention you don’t use climbing ropes.) It’s all about speed, dexterity, some explosive strength and doing what we all used to do as kids around Leitrim before they ever put a name on it. A check of any of the many climbing and bouldering websites and forums on the internet will throw up numerous Leitrim sites where enthusiasts and beginnings alike are catching their thrills. Glenade and the Horseshoe range have a number of options, but do remember there is some risk involved in even this adjusted form of rock climbing so check all potential sites out beforehand and never climb alone. (If you happen to be in the capital any time check out the incredible new Gravity Climbing Centre in Inchicore [] and you’ll get a taste for what it’s all about and what’s involved.)

Leitrim really is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets when it comes to the terrain and countryside at our disposal, and a lot of what people chose to do with their spare time can challenge our occasionally restricted concepts of sport. The Holy Soles walking group in Manorhamilton recently hosted a very successful North Leitrim Glens Hillwalking Festival over the Easter weekend with an array of walks for all fitness levels catered for (not to mention some good food, music and even a disco included in the programme of events.) If you have lived all your life in Leitrim and have never looked over the county from the vantage point of Ben Whiskin or walked around the disused ruins of the Barite mines on Benbulben then you are missing one of the country’s greatest vistas.

The other thing we have in abundance, of course, is waterways. This has long been known to anglers and fishermen from Ireland, Europe and beyond, but they are also home to many a sportsman and woman. One of my real regrets from when I lived in Carrick-on-Shannon was that I didn’t have the time to explore the potential of Carrick-on-Shannon Rowing club. Rowers are amongst the fittest athletes around, often positioned only second to cross-country skiers in terms of cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Plus, I always admired the somewhat masochistic tendencies rowers seem to possess around training: the unearthly early starts, the gruelling workouts and so on.

The club is booming at the moment and rightly so, knowing some of the great work members are doing behind the scene to train young members and promote the club’s activities and growth. In fact, they have become a victim of their own success and now require expansion to cater for their swelling membership. You could do a lot worse than contribute to a) their problem, by becoming an active member and take up some more of their valuable room, and b) their solution by supporting their ‘Buy a Brick’ fundraising campaign. More details on how to do both can be found at