Gallery: Brrrr...aving the cold in Ballybunion waters
Published 01/01/2014 | 05:36
FOR the past 28 years the people of Ballybunion and surrounding parishes have been putting off their Christmas turkey until the afternoon to make time for the annual Christmas Day swim in the seaside town.
This year was no exception, with over 300 brave souls taking the plunge in the popular event, organised annually to raise funds for the Ballybunion Sea & Cliff Rescue Service.
According to newly-elected PRO, Grace Flahive, the mild weather on Christmas Day proved a massive help, attracting record numbers this year.
"It was the best year so far, with over 300 people taking to the water, young and old," she said. "We were really lucky to get such a perfect day considering recent storms and more that had been forecast."
The fun and frolics got underway around 12.30pm, with men, women and children - and of course the odd Santa - running the 100 yards from the rescue centre to the water, egged on by eager supporters. Renowned piper Danny Houlihan entertained the troops as they made their dash to the Atlantic, all of whom were treated to warm refreshments after their dip.
Special prizes were awarded to the youngest female swimmer on the day, local girl Maggie O' Neill; the youngest male swimmer, Daniel Breen from Beale, along with the eldest lady and gent swimmers of 2013, who were Ron McCoy from Newcastle West and Donal Walsh from Ballybunion. There was also a special prize awarded to local man Kevin McMahon, who was the best fundraiser at the event, while everyone who took part on the day received a Ballybunion Rescue Swim medal.
"Several thousand euro was raised on the day which will go directly to maintaining this vital rescue service," Grace said.