ICCM is a co-ed club and welcomes members of all ages and abilities. Flexible practice schedules allow members to row as often or as seldom as they like. ICCM appeals to athletes looking for competitive challenges. Numerous regattas throughout the summer allow rowers to showcase their talents and determination. ICCM also welcomes rowers who wish to row for recreation or exercise.
The mission of the Irish Currach Club of Milwaukee is to enhance and foster the nautical heritage of Ireland in the Midwest and to promote the culture of currachs and currach racing in North America.
A currach is a wood framed boat traditionally covered with light skins, although all modern currachs now use canvas and black oil paint. The keel-less boat can ride large ocean swells and skim up shallow rivers.
The wooden ribs used to make the boats are traditionally ash or oak. The oars do not widen out at the tips, allowing them to slice through choppy waters and greatly reduce the risk of capsizing. The length of the boat varied depending on its region of origin, but NACA boats are 25 feet long.
ICCM was established in 1989 by Tadhg McInerney, originally of Limerick, Ireland, at the request of fellow Milwaukee resident and Dublin native, John Gleeson. Gleeson, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Irish studies professor, and long-time affiliate of Irish Fest, was interested in somehow including currachs in this country's largest Celtic festival, held annually on Milwaukee's lakefront. The Mulkerrin brothers of the Pittsburgh Curragh Club one of the oldest currach organizations in this country built and brought a boat for the new Milwaukee team to race at the 1989 Irish Fest. (The ICCM fleet of currach has since grown to five in racing condition, three of which club members have helped build.)
Soon afterward, ICCM joined the North American Currach Association (NACA), a conference that had until that point been a primarily East-Coast organization. The original NACA teams were Pittsburgh, Annapolis, Albany, Philadelphia, and Boston. With the addition of the Milwaukee team, the currach racing tradition has spread to the Midwest, the original mission of McInerney and Gleeson. New Orleans later joined the conference and in 2000, another NACA team sprung up west of the Ohio River, in Columbus, bringing the competition a little closer to home for ICCM.
Each year, ICCM hosts its regatta on the Saturday of Irish Fest. There are nine to ten races of one to four rowers in women’s, men’s and mixed competition. On Sunday, the club organizes the policemen vs. firemen races and races for new and youth ICCM rowers. Both days of racing draw large crowds to see this traditional sport of the coastal areas of Ireland.