Sunday 10 December 2017

Enjoying a high yule tide

Louise Hogan and Niall O'Connor

IT may have been relatively mild outside, but the Christmas Day swimmers found there was a chill in the water.

Throughout the country people braved the seas, some decked in santy hats and red swimsuits, to mark the special occasion.

Met Eireann forecaster Deirdre Lowe said it may feel mild after the snowy conditions of recent Christmas Days, but it was not all that warm, with temperatures of around 8-9C.

The forecast revealed the rest of the week will be reasonably mild, with the possibility of some snow on the Donegal hills for a short time this afternoon.

"For the Christmas Day swimmers, the temperatures would be around 11C in the Irish Sea and about 10C off the northwest but you have to take into account the wind too," she said.

At the Bull Wall, in Clontarf, Dublin, a group of swimmers said the water was "freezing" after they took the plunge to mark the death this year of John McKenna (72), who had set up the St John Berchmans Club to teach swimming and lifesaving in 1974.

"He meant so much to everyone," Trish Kelly, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, who was on hand to deliver the coffee to warm the group of 20 swimmers up.

"We used to go to the Bull Wall every Christmas morning to swim but we didn't do it in the last five years. Now we've brought it back in his name."

They were just some of the hardy souls leaping into the water all around the country.

Many had personal or charitable reasons for taking the plunge on a morning when many opted for a lie-in, whereas others did so for fun.

One of the largest turn-outs was at Garryvoe in east Cork, where swimmers took to the icy Celtic Sea to raise funds for the local Ballycotton life boat.


Blathnaid Lane-Walsh, of Ballycotton RNLI, paid tribute to the many swimmers who braved almost freezing temperatures.

"It was a fabulous morning and there was a great turnout," she said.

At the famous Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin, broadcaster Vincent Browne was spotted looking at swimmers taking the plunge. However, he was fully clothed and did not look like he wanted to follow suit himself.

A group of over 100 swimmers took part in the 34th annual swim at Sligo Yacht Club in Rosses Point, to raise monies for Special Olympics in Connacht and also the STOP Suicide charity.

In Lixnaw, Co Kerry, Liam MacGuire was lifted out of his wheelchair into the sea by his children who wanted to raise money for the Irish Wheelchair Association.

More than 200 swimmers braved bouts of rain and a chill in the air on Banna Beach in the county to raise money for the Banna Sea Rescue Unit.

Newly married couple Deirdre Hogan, from Tralee, and Diarmuid O'Connor, from Cashel, Co Tipperary, were enjoying their first Christmas by taking the plunge into the waters in Fenit, Co Kerry.

There were plenty of santa hats bobbing up and down on the waves as swimmers jumped into the water at Salthill Beach in Galway on behalf of charity COPE Galway.

Irish Independent

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