Getting Started in Canoeing
Canoeing / kayaking is a wide-ranging and multi-faceted sport enjoyed by people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities across the country. To find out more about the different types of recreational and competitive canoeing please see the canoeing disciplines section.
There are typically two routes into paddling, through a club (see here for list of clubs) or by enrolling in an introductory course. These training courses either run over a weekend or a series of evening sessions.
Various clubs around the country run beginner’s courses to entice new members. In addition to this, the Irish Canoe Union has its own Training centre on the river Liffey in Dublin. Courses take place from the Centre throughout the spring & summer months.
To find out about courses outside the Dublin area, please consult our list of other course providers.
What is covered on an introductory course?
Most introductory courses cover skills from the level 1&2 skills awards in general purpose kayaks. You learn how to control your boat going forwards and backwards, how to turn and move sideways and what to do if you capsize. Safety is of paramount importance and instructors cover topics such as the basic safety rules of canoeing and appropriate safety equipment.
Most of the time on an introductory course is spent on flat water but towards the end you may get a chance to experience the thrill of some white water on weirs or small rapids.
What equipment do I need to start canoeing?
Most introductory courses provide all the equipment you need – kayak, paddle, wetsuit, waterproof paddle jacket, buoyancy aid, helmet and a spraydeck to keep the water out of your boat. This gives you an opportunity to try out different types of equipment and to decide if you really like the sport before making a big investment.
The best way to continue kayaking after your introductory course is to join a club.
The Difference Between a Canoe and a Kayak...

A frequently asked question!

A kayak is a boat with a closed cockpit, where the paddler uses a paddle with 2 blades.

A canoe is a boat with an open design, where the paddler uses a single bladed paddle. Canoeists often kneel, rather than sit.

Both styles of boat have 1 and 2 person versions, but a canoe generally holds two people, while a kayak usually holds just one.

In some countries (Ireland included), canoeing has become a generic term for both activities and since kayaking is the more common type of craft, the terms often get mixed up.

All introductory courses run from the ICU Training Centre are done in kayaks!