The Nore Dragon women to take part in Relay for Life Kilkenny

Survivors of breast cancer giving back

Sean Keane


Sean Keane


The Nore Dragon Paddlers take to the Nore

Nore Dragon Paddlers getting ready to enter the River Nore at the Canal Walk in Kilkenny city

The name, Nore Dragon Paddlers conjures up Viking like images.
In fact, it is the official moniker for a 40 strong group of women who row up and down the River Nore two or three times a week.
They have become something of a tourist attraction as they speed through the water with a cox, urging them on sometimes with the help of a beating drum.
Each woman has a story to tell, of recovery from breast cancer, finding friendship, camaraderie with others in a similar position to themselves.
This year, they have decided to take part in the Relay for Life at Kilkenny Rugby Club on Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21.
Relay For Life is a 24 hour event where teams of friends, family, and members of the community come together for 1 day to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and fight back against the disease by raising awareness and having conversations about cancer.
Relay teams consist of 10 or more people and can be made up of family, friends, co-workers - It’s up to you.
Team Captains register their team and together the team raises funds in advance of Relay and then coming together on the night of Relay to celebrate, remember and fight back.
Maggie Walsh is a Nore Dragon Paddler and is taking part in Relay For Life at Kilkenny Rugby Club.
“In 2016 I joined the Nore Dragon Paddlers. These are an amazing group of breast cancer survivors who go out on the River Nore every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning.
“The paddling is a particularly good exercise which helps to prevent women from developing lymphedema after having a mastectomy.
“And as well as the fun and cracic that we have I have found wonderful support and camaraderie amongst my fellow survivors. We are always looking for new recruits so come along and join us.
“This year The Nore Dragon Paddlers are entering a team in the Relay for Life Kilkenny event which raises money for many projects such as night nurses, volunteer drivers and research.
“All of us have benefited greatly in some way or other from their help so please come and have an amazing experience and support a very worthy cause at the same time,” Maggie said.
To find out more email relayforlife at
Paula Fleming is one of those who started the Nore Dragon Paddlers in 2016 and echoed what Maggie said about the importance of giving back and helping.
The group are always looking for new members and Paula can be contacted at 0872363298.
Dragon boat paddling for breast cancer survivors came about some years following a study by Dr Don McKenzie, a sports medicine physician in Canada who wanted to see if repetitive upper body exercise in those treated for breast cancer caused a condition known as lymphoedema, a chronic swelling of the arm.
An initial group was monitored, following a special exercise and dragon boat training programme. It was found that no new cases of lymphoedema occurred and no existing cases worsened.
Finally, 17 of the Nore women will be part of the Three Sisters competing in a regatta for breast cancer survivors in Florence, Italy on July 3 to 10.