Thursday 20 September 2018

Spirits high in the freezing cold as thousands brave water for annual Christmas swims

Swimmers at Rosses Point, Co Sligo. Photo: James Connolly
Swimmers at Rosses Point, Co Sligo. Photo: James Connolly

Ryan Nugent

Thousands of people took tentative steps before taking the plunge into freezing cold waters around the country.

The festive tradition is alive and well as hardy souls enjoyed a quick dip before tucking into their Christmas dinner. Dublin's Forty Foot saw huge numbers of people as the heavy rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm.

The annual tradition saw car park spaces at a premium from as early as 8am in Sandycove. Some even arrived in their Santa costumes, while others visiting Ireland for the first time at Christmas were coaxed into leaping in by their new family members.

Eimear Fleming (29) from Dundrum and Brett Petersen (30) got married in May and are living in Washington.

"He's from Florida, so he usually goes swimming in the gulf coast," Eimear said.

Though her husband insisted the Irish version was a "wonderful tradition".

Orla, Ann, Sean and Tommy O’Connell at Loughrea Lake, Co Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Orla, Ann, Sean and Tommy O’Connell at Loughrea Lake, Co Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk

"We're just married, it's our first Christmas in Ireland, you have to go with the traditions and do what they say basically," Brett said.

Their pal, Lucy Lannigan-O'Keeffe from Kilkenny, said they were regulars at the swim. "We do it every year, so we were never having any second thoughts," she said.

There was also an impressive turn-out for the swim at Garretstown beach in Co Cork, as young and old joined in the fun.

The Christmas swim at Myrtleville Beach also witnessed bumper crowds.

Not to be outdone, hundreds of hardy souls flocked to Loughrea Lake, Co Galway, to participate in the Christmas plunge. Family members Orla, Ann, Sean and Tommy O'Connell were all smiles as they braved the waters.

People turned out in their droves to swim at Bundoran, Co Donegal, while more than 300 people turned out for the event in Banna Beach, Co Kerry.

Santa (aka Karl Butler from Citywest) takes the plunge at the Forty Foot in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Santa (aka Karl Butler from Citywest) takes the plunge at the Forty Foot in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Bret Peterson and Emer Fleming at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Bret Peterson and Emer Fleming at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News