About The IDBA

IDBA Mission

Our mission

To make dragon boat racing a mass participation sport throughout the 32 counties of Ireland and make the sport accessible to all ages and abilities.

The IDBA Aims To:

  • Encourage the development of dragon boat clubs – Regular, mixed, junior and breast cancer survivor (BCS).
  • Encourage the highest standards of paddle sport.
  • Promote and develop physical activity particularly in the junior age range.
  • Raise awareness about lifestyle and health management in the areas of health, exercise and nutrition.
  • Develop common approaches towards the provision of training and skills development; this in turn will support engagement with local communities.
  • Organise dragon boat regattas to encourage the non-athlete that sport can be enjoyable as well as being good for your physical and mental health, and that dragon boating is an excellent team building sport.
  • Promote and develop physical activity to support recovery from cancer treatment.
  • Improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of people who have or have had Breast Cancer. (Research has shown that repetitive upper body movement can aid those individuals suffering from Lymphoedema).

Dragon Boat History

The Legend

Dragon boating is an ancient Chinese sport which dates back over 2000 years to a time of rivalry, intrigue and corruption. The dragon boat itself is deeply imbedded in China’s dragon culture, with each boat having an ornately carved dragon’s head at the bow and a tail in the stern. The boat is painted with scales and the paddles symbolically represent the dragon’s claws.

In the third century BC a warrior and poet Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself into the Mi Lo River after corrupt court officials removed him from his high office and banished him from the royal palace.

Legend tells us that following his death local fisherman took to the water to search for his body and to protect it from being eaten by fish they beat the drums in their boats and hit the water with their paddles. Then to give his spirit food and appease the water dragons they threw rice dumplings into the river.

To commemorate this sacrifice, the people began to organise dragon boat festivals in his memory and thus the sport of dragon boat racing was born. The dragon boat festival is celebrated every year on the 5th day of the 5th Moon (month) of the Chinese lunar calendar. The practise of making offerings of rice dumplings or Zongzi is an extremely important part of the festival.

Dragon Boating Today

Modern day dragon boating has evolved as a high performance sport, capturing the imagination of the world by storm. With over 50 million paddlers participating annually in competitions worldwide, it is the fastest growing water sport in the world.

Dragon boating is not only competitive; it is sociable, fun, colourful and dynamic. As a sport it is all inclusive and can be used to help tackle obesity and help people stay fit and healthy. It is also very attractive to the corporate and community market as a great team building activity.

Dragon boating was originally introduced to Ireland in the early 1990’s when boats were brought from the UK to hold events. In 2005 the IDBA was formed, though only really in name, until the Association was formally launched in Dublin in October 2010. Since then the sport has grown year on year with numerous events held annually and our own International Senior Women’s Dragon Boat Team which has regularly medalled on the European stage.

The IDBA is a member of both the European Dragon Boat Federation (EDBF) and the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) and as such is recognised as the only Governing Body here in Ireland.’

Executive Team


Clubs & Centres



Coaching & Officials

Executive Committee

Our Executive Committee


Julie Doyle

Julie Doyle


Having started dragon boating back in 1991, Julie was one of the first female helms in the UK and has since gone on to helm and paddle for both the British and Irish Dragon Boat Teams.

Following her experience on the British Dragon Boat Racing Association’s Board, Julie founded the Irish Dragon Boat Association in 2010 and has seen the sport grow in Ireland through her roles as Chairman, Event Organiser and a dragon boat Coach.

Julie has served as EDBF Secretary General for 8 years, as well as being an experienced Grade 3 IDBF Race Official officiating at numerous European and World Championships.

Julie is currently the 3rd IDBF Vice President, a position she has held since 2018.

As a chartered Quantity Surveyor (BSc, MRICS), Julie brings a wealth of commercial and contract knowledge from working with multinational construction companies.

Christine Barnes

Christine Barnes


Christine Barnes was introduced to the world of dragon boating in 2012 when she joined the Plurabelle Paddlers and has since participated in racing at national and international regattas with the club.

During the last 12 years, Christine has served on the Board of the Plurabelle Paddlers, acted as a Race Official at numerous IDBA regattas and gained both the IDBF Race Officials licence and Participation Coach award.

Christine’s working background was at management level in both retail and wholesale business and also as an independent, small business owner.

Dympna Watson

Dympna Watson


Dympna Watson has a working background in the Airline Industry at management level with a proven track record of communication, organisational, management, facilitation and administrative skills.
Dympna played basketball for many years and was club chair, secretary, treasurer and an official. Subsequent to a breast cancer diagnosis Dympna became a volunteer with ARC Cancer Support Centre and Europa Donna Ireland – the Irish Breast Cancer Campaign where she served as Chairperson for 10 years. She has also served on the CORU Radiographers Registration Board of Ireland and the Northside Partnership Board.

Having joined the first dragon boat club in Ireland, the Plurabelle Paddlers in 2010, Dympna obtained qualifications as a helm, Participation Coach and International Race Official. She has also competed at international level for Ireland.

Dympna joined the IDBA at board level in 2010, is the current Secretary and officiates at Irish Regattas.

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