60th Liffey Descent

At the very first Dublin Boat Show in 1960, a short canoe race took place on the river Liffey as part of the programme. From this small beginning emerged the annual Liffey Descent canoe marathon which attracts paddlers from all corners of the globe and it now a major event of the international marathon racing calendar.

A feature of the Liffey Descent is the variety of challenges which fully test the skills of the paddlers as they make their way from Straffan in Co Kildare to Islandbridge in Dublin City – a distance of 32+ kilometres.

An event such as the Liffey Descent which has spanned six decades does not happen by accident. Over the past 60 years, committees, race co-ordinators and volunteers have come and gone. All have done their bit to mould and shape this race from modest beginnings into the world-class canoe marathon it is today. Because of their hard work, determination and ambition, the race stands tall as one of the great events on the Irish sporting calendar. 

Special mention

We would like to thank a number of people who are helping us assemble the history of the Liffey Descent through their memories and their personal archives. Without their help, crucial results, photographs and stories relating to the race would have been lost forever. All of these have given freely of their time for no other reason than their love for the race and its heritage.

  • David Farrell
  • Declan Ward – time keeping, past curator of LiffeyDescent.com/.ie
  • Carmel Vekins
  • Frank Crowley
  • Audrey and Ernest Lawrence
  • Derek Martin
  • Peter Mc Illewaine


  • Bill Hallowes
  • Pat Blount
  • Eunan Malone
  • Seamus O Driscoill
  • Mick Feeney
  • Tom Egan
  • Lindie Naughton


And finally

We thank the very modest Iain MacLean. Iain, a Liffey “regular” for the past 40 + years, has spent the last couple of years writing an exhaustive history of the Liffey Descent. This is to be published in August 2019 as part of the race’s 60 th  anniversary year. With the book, Iain aims not only to celebrate the race but to give an insight into some of the ups and downs over the years. We will keep you posted on this as it develops. In preparing the book, a huge effort is being made to ensure accuracy, although assembling the historical data  – especially for the middle years – remains a work in progress. At present, Iain is collecting and analysing as much data as he can find, so if you can contribute race results, photographs or memorabilia, please get in touch at liffeydescent@canoe.ie
When it comes to photographs, we have tried when possible to give due credit to the photographer. In some cases, that information was unavailable. If we have failed to credit a photograph belonging to you or a loved one, please let us know.

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