Wednesday 22 May 2019

Welcome the new year with a fresh face

This New Year's Day, bid farewell to your usual hangover and start 2018 off on a positive note, writes Heather Snelgar

Making waves: Conor Maguire
Making waves: Conor Maguire

Heather Snelgar

Most of us associate New Year's Eve with raucous parties and the inevitable hangover and feeling of doom that follows on New Year's Day. Nestled in front of the TV with the dregs of the Roses box for company, resolutions hang heavy over our heads as the realisation that the fun has come to an end for another year hits.

However, that's not the case for everyone. This New Year's Day there will be fresh-faced folks mounting their bikes, climbing mountains and even jumping into the frigid sea in a bid to start the year off on a positive note.

We caught up with four such people who tell us why they won't be nursing hangovers this New Year's Day.

Nikki Bradley (33) from Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Nikki Bradley is not your average 33-year-old woman. Diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer at 16, she defied all odds and is currently one of less than 10 people worldwide to have survived what she had.

Despite two hip replacements and the fact she cannot walk without crutches, Bradley is determined to live life to the full, taking on mammoth hikes and rock climbing routes both in Ireland and further afield.

And she shows no sign of slowing down over the festive season. "I stopped going out on New Year's Eve a couple of years ago as I don't enjoy it. Having crutches in a packed pub is minus craic, so I will either call around to friends or celebrate the New Year with my partner and his family.

Nikki Bradley
Nikki Bradley

"I'm also in training mode as I am hoping to climb four of Ireland's highest peaks in less than 24 hours next July. I'll try and do lots of hikes over Christmas and then on New Year's Day I will head for a nice hike near my home in Donegal. I won't make it too hard as I like to enjoy the day. I will climb with my partner as he loves the outdoors too.

"The sense of achievement after a winter hike is much more powerful than in summer. You know you were pushed to the limit and I really enjoy that feeling. My partner Ian has a beautiful sauna in his garden so it's the perfect place to warm up post-hike."

Conor Maguire (24) from Bundoran, Co Donegal

It's been a big year for Conor Maguire. In February, he was nominated for the prestigious Tube of the Year at the World Surf League Big Wave Awards for surfing a mammoth wave off the coast of Mullaghmore in Co Sligo - mammoth meaning waves the size of two or three story houses.

Maguire will be spending the festive season like many others this year: "Presents, too much food and laughter with the family usually takes up most of it. Although we are usually lucky and a good swell seems to land on Christmas Day bringing merry waves to all the good surfers in Bundoran.

"Over the years it has become tradition to take an hour or two away from festive activities to go for a splash in the wild Atlantic with a core crew of friends. It is almost like we have a second family we must go and share our joy with. It's just a few locals that have grown up surfing together enjoying a few waves in between the food and drink.

"Like most Irish people I will ring in the New Year with friends and family. And there is no better way to clear a groggy head the following day than to jump into the cold, unforgiving ocean. A surf is always the best way to begin the New Year. The relentless waves try their best to wash away any bad habits whilst the icy water numbs the pain of the night before."

Jack O'Donohue (65) from Dublin

When Jack O'Donohue retired five years ago he had three main goals: to lose weight, get fit and to replace the work element of his life with new activities. So he created a bucket list and has since made it his life's work to realise those goals. In the past few years O'Donohue has climbed Kilimanjaro, trekked the Camino in northern Spain, hiked to Everest Basecamp and walked all 2,500km of the Wild Atlantic Way.

However, O'Donohue stresses that the Christmas period is a time for more relaxing endeavours with his wife Brenda, his five kids and seven grandchildren.

Jack O'Donoghue
Jack O'Donoghue

"Brenda and I had a very quiet Christmas, preparing for St Stephen's day when the whole family came over to our house for dinner, some music, a late night and a sleep over.

Over the next few days we may go to Donadea Forest Park or the Castletown Estate for a leisurely walk to clear the cobwebs. It's also a great way to introduce the grandkids to the joys of the outdoors.

"New Year's Eve is also a very quiet occasion at home and we will make contact with family in Ireland and abroad using Skype or WhatsApp. New Year's Day is then all about family and we will try and get together for another walk. We might go to Glendalough if we fancy a longer walk.

"I find winter hikes very invigorating, especially when you have to battle against the driving wind and rain. It is so rewarding when you finally reach sanctuary where you can partake in a warm beverage and a hot meal. It is fantastic."

Irish Independent

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