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Monday 26 September 2016

Martin and Duff take plunge in New Year swims

Jane O'Faherty

Published 02/01/2016 | 02:30

Damian and Geraldine McClean brave the freezing waters at Culdaff, north Donegal. Photo: North West Newspix
Damian and Geraldine McClean brave the freezing waters at Culdaff, north Donegal. Photo: North West Newspix
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in Courtmacsherry, Cork. Photo: Denis Boyle
Damien Duff takes a dip on Bray seafront in Wicklow. Photo: Mark Doyle

Tánaiste Joan Burton wasn't the only national politician making a splash this week as Micheál Martin took a New Year's dip off the coast of west Cork.

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The Fianna Fáil leader found himself in cold water when he took the plunge for the RNLI New Year's Day Swim in Courtmacsherry.

The annual event is held to raise funds for the local lifeboat service and is normally held in Broadstrand, but was moved to Courtmacsherry due to adverse weather conditions.

Mr Martin wasn't the only public figure who braved the waves on a freezing cold New Year's Day.

Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris was among more than 100 determined swimmers who ran into the sea off Bray seafront.

Mr Harris took to Twitter to post a picture of his feat, as he joined the courageous crowds for a charity swim.

"Cold but exhilarated - great way to start the New Year," he tweeted, as those gutsy enough to get in faced torrential rain.

Ireland soccer legend Damien Duff was another courageous participant who made the leap at the seafront, dressed in a wetsuit and runners.

The event is now in its 31st year and collects funds for five local charities. The annual challenge is organised by the local Lions Club.

It has raised €304,804 for good causes in its three-decade history, including €10,320 in 2014.

This year, Bray Poor Relief Fund will benefit from some of the money raised.

The annual swim is a highlight of the Bray community's calendar, with many of the swimmers turning out each year to face the cold waters in fancy dress.

This year's Bray swim looked uncertain earlier on New Year's Day following inclement conditions at sea.

But lifeguards and safety officers confirmed the water was favourable just before the midday event.

Meanwhile, the chilly winter weather did little to dissuade hundreds of fundraisers in north Donegal as they stampeded into the freezing waters at Portnablagh and Culdaff.

Thousands of fearless waders kicked off their New Year's resolutions and joined in for other sea swims in numerous other locations around Ireland, including Kilkenny, Kerry and Galway.

Irish Independent

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