Iain Maclean (or Haggis as he’s more affectionately known) is no stranger to us here around Liffey Descent HQ, however he might not necessarily be known to all.

Iain Maclean & Mick Keating, Salmon Leap Canoe Club. 📸 circa 1972 with thanks to the Keating family archive.

The term legend is bandied around about a lot of people, however in this case it doesn’t even do justice. Iain has more than 50 races under his belt, in singles & doubles, all manner of craft. This year he takes part for the 52nd time, he told us he was done at 50………. “Ah, sure, look it, isn’t that it?” On Saturday 14 September 2019, the 60th Liffey Descent takes place and to mark this milestone event, Iain Maclean, a veteran of more that 50 “Liffey’s”, has written a history of this world renowned river marathon.


For the past 2 years at least Iain has been beavering away in the background talking to this person, harassing that person, all to pull together some kind of definitive history of this remarkable race. The reality is, that within the next decade we could potentially loose all of that information (some folklore, some fact, valuable information none the less) from the very early races and it was imperative somebody cataloged it. He has unearthed some cracking photography, some great stories, compiled some really interesting facts, some truly incredible. We as a community will be forever indebted to him, his close circle of friends and colleagues that have helped him pull all this together, truly a admirable feat. Between them they’ve reached out to past competitors near and far, families, previous race coordinators and a host of others to try and get an understanding of what this great race means to paddlers and why it has lasted the test of time.

Iain Maclean, Wrens Nest 2012, 📸 with thanks to Christine Taylor


We have with Iain’s help managed to get a considerable amount of archive material as a result of this process, some from collectors and others from Liffey Descent enthusiasts. Talking to these people over the past year or so I’ve come to realise that this event truly runs in some peoples blood, for others its tucked in there, just under the skin. Iain I’m sure will do his thanks on the night, there are so many people involved. We have been sharing some of the back catalogues of images on our “faces of the races” feature on social media and we have some real treats to in-store for you in the coming weeks.


We are delighted to be supporting Iain on the book launch which is due to take place on Saturday 31st August in City Hall. The event is free and open to all. On the night we hope to see plenty of old faces, make some new friends and re-kindle some lost friendships all in the name of this great race. We’d love to see you there, please RSVP by Friday 23rd August.

The Details

This event is free & there is an open invitation. However you must RSVP to reserve your seat for catering & security reasons at the venue. An e-vite will go out by email to all competitors that took part in the last number of years by email, if you want to be included get yourself in here: https://www.liffeydescent.ie/subscribe/

Otherwise click across to Eventbrite website and get yourself some Tickets Please

Shane Cronin 2019 Race Coordinator

The Liffey Descent

The Liffey Descent – 60 Years of Ireland’s Toughest Canoeing Challenge

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