Avonmore / Annamoe, who really cares right?

Seriously.... does it really matter?

Well it kinda does and not just because I'm a cantankerous auld bollix


Annamoe (Irish: Áth na mBó, meaning "Ford of the Cows")[2] is a hamlet located on the Avonmore river in County Wicklow,Ireland about 32 km (20 mi) from Dublin. It is on the R755 road (at the junction with the R763) between Roundwood and Laraghon the road to Glendalough.

The small stone humpback bridge is a popular place for tourists to stop and view the County Wicklow scenery. There is a troutfishery in the village with a 4-acre (16,000 m2) lake where one can fly or bait fish. A separate fishing pond for children allows them to catch brown and rainbow trout.[3][4][5]

Avonmore River

The Avonmore River (Irish: Abhainn Mór, meaning "big river"), also known as Abhainn Dé (also spelt Abhainn Dea), flows fromLough Dan in the Wicklow Mountains west of Roundwood. It flows in a generally southerly direction for approximately 30 km (19 mi) before joining the Avonbeg at the Meeting of the Waters (Cumar an dá Uisce) to form the River Avoca,[1] which in turn discharges into the Irish Sea at Arklow. From source to sea the river remains in East Wicklow.

Downstream from Lough Dan the Avonmore reaches the village of Annamoe where it is crossed by the R755 regional road. From there is descends to Laragh and down through a heavily wooded valley to Rathdrum. Near Rathdrum it passes through the grounds of Avondale House, former home of Charles Stewart Parnell. A few kilometers south of Avondale it meets the Avonbeg at the Meeting of the Waters.

The discussion that has raged on for years! Is it the Avonmore or the Annamoe and sure who cares it's like old faithful, Ireland's best known Class 3 river that pretty much everyone has paddled at some point.  To be fair I might be overselling the rage a little but it's certainly a topic I've heard talked about regularly since I started paddling. 

Ask anyone local to Wicklow and they will tell you correctly the river is called the Avonmore that at some point passes through a village called Annamoe. It's as simple as that and sure even Wikipedia agrees. However this isn't just about me being right there is some sort of logic to my pendency.

IWW Avonmore Guide

If you have a look at Irish White Waters guide it does reference that some people call the river the Annamoe, and to be fair I can see why. The section of river from Annamoe Village to Laragh / Ballard Bridge is possibly the most paddle section of white water in Ireland and IWW being a community sourced guide it reflects thoughts of the community.

Eventually getting to the raison d'etre of why I have a have a real thing in being against not calling the river by it's correct name and why this isn't just a concern for those who paddle in Wicklow.

Kayaking as an adventure sport carries an inherent risk and we've all heard stories of incidents from the fairly minor to those with the worst possible outcomes. I know when I paddle with my mates we like to think of ourselves as being fairly self sufficient should anything happen and most groups would be similar, however there are times when external help is needed by the emergency services to assist in anything from a sprained wrist to a helicopter evacuation.

In times when assistance is needed we interact with people from outside of our paddling community and who aren't aware of the different / incorrect names we like to give rivers. In the worse case situations the golden hour is often referred to 'during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death'. 

Golden Hour

Cases of severe trauma, especially internal bleeding, require surgical intervention. Complications such as shock may occur if the patient is not managed appropriately and expeditiously. It therefore becomes a priority to transport patients suffering from severe trauma as fast as possible to specialists, most often found at a hospital trauma center, for definitive treatment. Because some injuries can cause a trauma patient to deteriorate extremely rapidly, the lag time between injury and treatment should ideally be kept to a bare minimum; this has come to be specified as no more than 60 minutes, after which time the survival rate for traumatic patients is alleged to fall off dramatically.

Even in a best case scenario if we as paddlers have such an incident, due to the nature of our activities we are often in a remote and difficult to access  locations. It's our responsibility to do everything we can to assist an the Emergency services getting to you as soon as possible. When you dial 112 your emergency call is answered at a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). These people while highly trained are often not aware of the nuanced names we have for rivers / locations. 

One of the most important pieces of information needed is your location or the location of the incident. In some cases, the Emergency Service may know your location but don’t presume this is the case. It is quite possible that the incident is different to the callers location and so due care needs to be taken by the Emergency Service.

Depending on which emergency service you request, some of the typical questions that are asked are as follows:

•The exact address of the incident or emergency and/or any noticeable landmarks nearby
•Directions to the scene of the emergency
•The telephone number you are calling from

This logic applies not just to the Avonmore but to any location where we might paddle, be it fresh or salt water. We have to know as close as reasonably practical where we are and how to direct Emergency Services to us with minimal fuss. There is no use you telling an operator you are at 'Location X' if that location doesn't exist outside of our small community. 

In a recent  Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report these were two of the Safety Recommendations handed down.


6.1 Kayaking groups making descents on remote rivers of Grade 3 and higher should carry registered personal location beacons (PLB’s). This will enable early alerting of the rescue services, in the event of an emergency.

6.2 In rivers of a high flow rate, with extended periods of rapids, Canoeing Ireland should recommend that kayaking groups should consider using waterproof radios to allow communication between group members when line of sight is not possible. 




Personal Location Beacons are amazing bits of kit. however I can't see it being the situation in Ireland any time soon where each paddler on Class 3 or greater will carry their own PLB. Until then there are a few simple things we can do to ensure the fastest response time should it all go wrong and we need the assistance of the Emergency Services.

  • Know the actual name of the river you are paddling.
  • Learn the road numbers / land marks and how best to direct someone to the get on/ off.
  • Have a evacuation plan, if in a more remote location what is the quickest way to access the river mid way along it's length/ at the crux feature.
  • Buy a map and learn how to use it, GPS on phones are great when they work but they can fail for a hole bunch or reasons. I've never see a map not get signal or run out of batteries.
  • P.P.P.P.P as always Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. 

Those are just a couple of pointers but I'm sure others could add far more. Incidents can and do happen, we often don't control the factors that cause them. We do however have full control over what happens before we get on the water, a small amount of preparation can drastically improve the outcome of most incidents.  

So going back to the original question, Avonmore vs Annamoe does it really matter?

You're damn right it matters it could save the life of your or your mates some day.

Now who want's to talk about Ballard bridge 🙂

Posted in Information, White Water.

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