Chairman hosts reception for Ryan Ballantine

3rd January 2019

On Friday 21 December 2018, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton, hosted a reception in the Townhall, Enniskillen, to recognise the success of Ryan Ballantine in international rowing.

Speaking at the reception, Councillor Howard said, ‘As Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council I am delighted to welcome you all to the Townhall this morning to this reception. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to our special guest, Ryan Ballantine, in whose honour this reception is being held. I would also like to welcome members of Ryan’s family who have also joined us this morning for this very special event.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is keen to recognise the successes of its sons and daughters who bring great distinction to the district and this reception affords myself as Chairman and the Council as a body, the opportunity to publicly acknowledge your tremendous success at the U-23 Rowing World Championships in Poznan, Poland in July and to reflect on your amazingly successful rowing career thus far. Your career has taken you from your early days as a Year 11 student at Portora Royal School when you first took up the sport here on the River Erne, to waterways all over the world.

I understand Ryan that, like many successful sportsmen and women, you excel at many sports and indeed I am told that your first love was Rugby. However, thankfully when it came to committing to a sport, under the watchful eye of coach Derek Holland, you chose rowing, a decision which has yielded significant success.

You first achieved national success as part of the Portora J18 Boat which won the Irish Schools title for the first time in 34 years in 2014.  You won 4 other Irish titles while at Portora before gaining a sports scholarship to Newcastle University which, I am told, is a recognised Centre of Excellence for Rowing in the UK.

You have managed quite successfully to balance your academic studies with your sporting endeavours and I understand this will continue in 2019 as you aspire to compete in the Under 23 World rowing event in Florida and the Senior Worlds in Austria all while completing your final year in Accounting and Finance at University.

Indeed you currently have five British Universities Rowing Championship gold medals together with a bronze medal from the 2017 European Universities Rowing Championships.

However, 2018 has been a standout year in terms of world success. Your selection for the Irish lightweight quadruple sculls team for the World U-23 Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland in July yielded a superb silver medal losing by less than three quarters of a canvas to a strong Italian team.  This earned you a call up to represent Ireland in the senior team at the world championships in Bulgaria in September. This crew, despite their relative youth qualified for the A final finishing fifth in the world which was a remarkable achievement given the age profile of the crew.

Enniskillen has a proud tradition of success on the water, a product of the ready availability of both the River and Lough as a natural training resource.  Open water swimmer, Ted Keenan, triple Olympian kayaker, Declan Burns and Team GB rower Holly Nixon have all made their mark on the world stage and you, Ryan, with your successes have joined this illustrious band.

The success of the O’Donovan brothers has raised the profile of Irish rowing and this will obviously be beneficial for the sport and I am delighted that the Council is able to recognise your contribution to the growing popularity of the rowing.

You have no doubt aspirations to emulate Declan Burns by becoming an Olympian and with the Olympics in Tokyo just 18 months away, the next year will be critical in realising that aspiration. Ryan, you have shown great commitment and dedication, and you are a wonderful ambassador for your family, your former school, and your district.  On behalf of the Council and the people of the district I would like to congratulate you on your success this far and wish you well for the incoming season both with the Irish team and with the University squad.’.