Couch to 5k – 2019

 

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Couch to 5k Swim Programme 2019,

in association with Waterways Ireland

 

Written by Maureen McCoy

Photos by Paul McCambridge @ MAC Visual Media

Couch to 5k 11

The Couch to 5km Swim Programme is now in its third year and this season we started in mid-May for a 10 week programme of coaching and fitness training to develop swimmers skills, technique and endurance in preparation for a final distance event. The aim; to compete in the 5k at ILDSA’s Lough Erne Swim Event held on 27th July.

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The early start caused a little trepidation as for many it was their first venture into open water this year – and for some the first time ever! But the mild spring weather meant the water was bearable at the beginning and soon warmed to pleasant temperatures.

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Alongside a new group of outdoor swimming enthusiasts, 2019 saw the return of several swimmers from previous years; three of which were aiming for 10k as their final challenge distance!

After our first sessions at the Share Discovery Village we moved to explore several other venues on the Erne System and on our final swim of the programme we resurrected Year 1’s challenge; the circumnavigation of the scenic Devenish Island.

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Blessed with a scorcher of a day the crowd of swimmers, escorted by kayakers, set off from Trory Jetty to round the island – quite a surprise to the passengers waiting for the ferry! Making their way past the rushes where a swan family peered out at the brightly coloured hats of these humans swimming by. The swimmers turned, following the island shoreline towards the tower of Devenish. As they crossed Friar’s Leap a returned to the lee of the island a new set of ferry passengers were greeted with the novel sight of a group of swim caps and tow-floats bobbing through the water towards them.

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Three of the Ct5k swimmers opted for the slightly easier and shorter swim from Trory Jetty to Devenish jetty and back, a round trip of 1 mile. With a brief photo-stop ignoring the island no parking sign and then escorted by Damselflies on the return journey.

 

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Christine happily swimming back from Devenish Jetty, Dragonflies/Damselflies hitching a lift… https://www.hep6.com/dragonfly-damselfly-symbolism-facts-meaning-totem-spirit-power-animal/

For some of the Ct5k this Devenish swim was the prefect way to conclude the programme. For others it gave them the confidence and belief in their ability to go for the 5k ILDSA event.

Couch to 5k 01

From the Ct5k programme, 3 swimmers completed the Ted Keenan mile, 12 completed the 5k and 2 completed the 10k – both winning their categories.

Couch to 5k Cake 1a

 

Pastry Masterpiece made by Johnnie Walker… Devenish Tower standing proud with swimmers ploughing around the island, the varied colours of hat showing the different distances they chose to complete and the finish line at the Lakeland Forum – the conclusion of 2019’s Couch to 5k Swim Programme!

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Coaches Maureen McCoy, Kealan and Paul McCambridge from SWIMFREE Outdoor Swimming Association would like to thank WATERWAYS IRELAND as our title sponsor for all their support, the SHARE Discovery Village for providing a wonderful space to focus on technique and skills and the ILDSA for inviting Couch to 5k Swimmers.

Couch to 5k Swimmers Results;

 

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Female Skins                                                                        Male Skins

1st        Caroline Ogle                                                           1st        Ray Smith

2nd       Joanne O’Neill

3rd        Bronagh Corrigan

 

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@Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media – 27th July 2019 Lough Erne 5k + 10k Swim. Couch to 5k participants.

Female Wetsuit                                                       Male Wetsuit

1st        Anna Todd                                         1st        Gareth Brady

2nd       Donna McElhill

3rd        Jenny Elliott-York

 

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Bonus results for Ct5k Swimmers;

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ILDSA 10k       1st Male Wetsuit Swimmer             Lee York

1st Male Skins Swimmer                 Tim Fagan

ILDSA 5k         2nd Male Wetsuit Swimmer                        Gareth Brady

 

Well done all!

Couch to 5k 02

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https://wildswim.wordpress.com/

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/

https://sharevillage.org/

http://www.ildsa.info/index.php

 

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100th Liffey Swim & Jack B Yeats

220719PMC - 100th Liffey Swim 01 Black Gold Web

Photography by Paul McCambridge

Words by Maureen McCoy

Dublin City and its swimmers are justly proud of this iconic event now about to celebrate its 100th birthday. With Jack B Yeats 1923 painting “The Liffey Swim” the inspiration for a re-enactment photograph in which Yeats had won an Olympic medal in 1924. A crowd of swimmers and spectators assembled at Custom House Quay dressed in period regalia. Some boarded the vintage tram carriage (one of Irelands last remaining) overlooking the water, while others lined the foreground, craning over the wall to wave and cheer the swimmers below.

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Six past Liffey Swim winners had the honour of this pre-event dip, including Siobhán Hoare-O’Driscoll, Ladies winner in 1991. They waved up to us on our high perch as we cheered, holding onto our hats lest they be blown into the river!

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Bert O’Brien 2 Times Winner of the Liffey Swim

The Dublin skyline and port has changed significantly since Yeats day as has the swim. For many years it was the men’s domain but in more recent years women have been coming to the fore.

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This year, on the 100th Liffey swim, the organisers expect more than 500 participants, all of whom have had to swim six of Leinster Open Sea Swimming qualifying events to be eligible for a place.

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The swim itself is on 3rd August and swimmers will start at Rory O’Moore Bridge for the 2,200m swim, passing under 11 of the City’s key bridges to finish at Custom House Quay;

  • Rory O’Moore Bridge
  • James Joyce Bridge
  • Liam Mellow
  • Bridge Father
  • Mathew Bridge
  • O’Donvan Rossa Bridge
  • Grattan Bridge
  • Millenium Bridge
  • Liffey Bridge (Halfpenny Bridge)
  • O’Connell Bridge
  • Butt Bridge
  • Rosie Hackett Bridge
  • Loop Line Bridge

 

A commemorative stamp depicting Yeats painting and celebrating the centenary will be available from 1st August from An Post.

220719PMC - 100th Liffey Swim Stamp 1

For a more comprehensive history of the swim and info on their Sea Swim events check out Leinster Open Sea Swimming

Dunkers & Dippers

 

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.comWords by Maureen McCoy, Photography by Paul McCambridge

Cold water swimmers each have their differing reasons for hitting the water on a regular basis, some wish to prepare for challenges such as the Ice Swimming distances or an event where the ability to deal with the cold for a long period is paramount. Others are aiming to reap the benefits purported to be induced; it is said it can boost the immune system, help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Whatever our reasons, it certainly gives one a zing and zest for life and the camaraderie found in swimming groups is infectious.

We are now well into April and the recent good weather heralds the coming of spring. Lengthening daylight and the promise of warm summer to come has set many swimmers thoughts to returning outdoors. However, plenty of hardy souls have been enjoying the invigorating sensations of dipping and dunking all through the cold, short days of winter.

As lifetime advocates of year-round swimming ourselves, we took the opportunity to meet up with several of these newly formed groups…

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Ballyhornan Bay Swimmers

Approximately half-way between Strangford town and Ardglass, along the Killard Road, lies Ballyhornan Bay and its close neighbour, Benderg.

A soggy morning in mid-February was the time we chose to visit the swim group that formed here over the winter. Running a little late, I arrived to see one other straggler just ahead of me making her way to the waters’ edge. I hastily stripped down to my cossie, crammed my cap on my head and fished goggles from the depth of my bag, fearing the others would leave the water just as I arrived.

No need to worry as I waded in calling out the one name in the group I knew; “Roisin?” one wetsuit clad lady said “She’s over there…” pointing to a tow-float anchored not far out where a little party of swimmers were doing repeated laps between this and a second rescue buoy.

When I joined them they were on lap 6. In the lee of Guns Island we did several more laps, swimming a mix of Breaststroke and Front Crawl, with a bit of chatting in between.

Finally, we were drawn to try out some body surfing in the small rollers breaking in the shallows, with a lot of squealing and trying not to lose our goggles in the foam we managed to return intact.

As we left the water the rain got heavier, it wasn’t the weather for hanging around, so everyone quickly retreated towards home with calls of; “See you next week!” and “…really enjoyed that!” leaving the beach with a happy buzz.

Thanks for the warm welcome ladies and I hope to see you again soon!

FB Link – Ballyhornan Sea Swimming Group

Ballyhornan – Lecale way inlet 

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©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers

On the shores of Lough Neagh, behind the Discovery Centre a short slipway offers entry to a sheltered section of the lough and it’s here at the weekends that Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers meet.

Rows of cars parked close to the water, spilt out swimmers in various stages of undress. Some with woolly hats, others already in their swim caps, all the same pale blue with a very amiable-looking Monster depicted on the side. The Dunkers have arrived.

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

A quick pre-dip brief by founder member Chris Judge included a warm welcome to us guests, it’s been quite a while since I swam with Chris at Newcastle harbour on a grey day. Nice to catch up again and it was great to see so many faces in the group.

After briefing, the Dunkers flooded down the slipway, some singing and some squealing as they waded in. A sea of bright coloured tow floats jostled with the blue Monster hats and the singing continued.

 Catching up with Francie McAlinden (Winner Global Swim Series 2018) who amongst other things is planning a charity swim for his grandson, 14th September – Swim for Oran – raising funds for the Heart Beat Trust RVH, I’m all signed up!

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Several members of Lisburn Triathlon club were tempted to explore winter dunking and swimming and then were very quickly drawn irreversibly to “the cold side…” These guys have ditched the wetsuits and set themselves some challenging swims over the next 2 years.

The wearing of bright coloured togs is optional but has become the trade mark of one “Paddy Pineapple” – Paddy Montgomery – Lisburn Triathlon Club, Ice Km and keen promoter of “Budgie Smugglers” togs… perhaps it makes one at least think a little warmer when dressed in tropical prints…

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Darren Cusick – Lisburn Triathlon Club, Ironman and Ice Km, has really taken to cold water swimming. Comfortable in the chilly water, it begs the question has he found an, as yet unresearched advantage? Subcutaneous ink-sulation???

Andrew Vaughan – Lisburn Triathlon Club, quietly takes it all in his lengthy stride…

Cathy Devlin, a founding member of the Monster Dunkers, greeted me with a big hug, having now ditched the wetsuit – a change from that long ago night swim at Janet’s Rock.

It was nice to catch up with old friends and see so many new faces getting into the water. Thanks for the swim caps Chris!

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

FB Link – Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers

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©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Jordanstown Lough Swimmers

Meeting up at the car park on the Lough Shore at Jordanstown, just beside the small café, it wasn’t long before we spied a small group of swimmers; warm coats and kit bags slung over their shoulders… we were in the right place.

The water looked grey and a little murky with the wind lifting a chop and creating waves which churned up the sand below, still, most of todays dip would be head up. More swimmers gathered, and we introduced ourselves to each other before Jonny lead us along the path that winds across Loughshore Park. At the far side we passed under some trees and were brought close to the water’s edge. Here the path met a high wall which we skirted around and continued along the seaward side to a gate and slipway.

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Nestled between the wall and the gate is the perfect changing area. As we prepared for our dip the air began to crackle with excitement, a few first timers were a little nervous but support was plentiful.

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

No two swims are ever the same, weather changes, conditions are different, how we feel on that day… these factors and more will make a difference…that’s what makes it so addictive.

The waves washed seaweed around our ankles as we made our way into the lough chatting and encouraging each other.

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

Bobbing about in the waves we looked toward Belfast, the giant yellow torsos of Samson and Goliath (cranes in the docks) standing out against the grey sky – the iconic view of Belfast. Still chatting happily as we climbed our way out across the mat of seaweed, everyone seeming to revel in the post swim buzz, discussing the merits of various coats, jackets and changing robes. The conversation continued as we walked back to our cars and the café.

Thank you, Jonny and JLS for inviting us to join you – great swim and see you again soon!

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

FB Link – Jordanstown Lough Swimmers

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Everyone; keep swimming, keep safe and keep enjoying…

©Paul McCambridge - www.wildswim.wordpress.com

 

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The Legend of Jenny Watt

The Legend of Jenny Watt by Brian Meharg, Bangor Boats

Beautifully illustrated by Janet King

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Bangor’s first children’s book by North Channel Pilot and amateur historian Brian Meharg has captured the imaginations of children and got them wanting to get outdoors and explore their local area.

Reviews:

Esther aged 8years

Esther Smith 1

“The whole idea of the Jenny Watt… it makes you want to find out more and maybe go to the place where the war was. Maybe if you went digging there you might find something magical. This book has a very good sense of adventure and it was very easy to read. I loved where in the very same spot where Jenny Watt was found there was a puppy. That book was just amazing. I love reading new books and I think this was one of the best books I’ve ever read… I thought it was just gorgeous.”

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Elijah aged 11years

Elijah Smith 1

“I thought this book explained the story very well. It made me think what it was like back then when there were smugglers. Whenever they got on their little boat and started smuggling the story got really intense. I loved it so much I read it all in one sitting. The Jenny Watts cave was so cool it made me want to go there and shout “Jenny where is Con” and she would hopefully reply.“gone”. I would recommend this book to children of all ages.

Ps. When I asked for a great book to read I defiantly got one.”

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Lovely reviews from 2 of my swimmers.

Author Brian Meharg signing my copy at Helens Bay…

Brian Meharg and Mo 1

Printed by Impact Printing, Coleraine & Ballycastle – 2018

ISBN 978-1-906689-84-1

Buying on eBay

ILDSA, Global Swim Series Awards – 2018 Season & Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

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Female and Male Swimmers of the Year Lisa Cummins and Ion Lazarenco Tiron

Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge

Saturday 9th February, 2019 at Belfast Castle

Outdoor Swimmers all over Ireland enjoy a good old get together and this year kicked off at Belfast Castle at lunch time, Saturday.

So much is shared on social media about our endeavours that we now feel we know the people we’ve never actually met so this annual event gives folk a chance to get a little spruced up and meet acquaintances they’ve been following, face to face, ask how it really felt, get inspiration and share their stories.

Between the presentations of awards each of the 4 speakers had a different story to tell. Speaking of their personal journeys, each tale had something that rang true for the crowd in the room.

Speakers:

Vanessa Dawes

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Vanessa Dawes explained how her swimming and art projects meld together. For her they are a combined entity; the research, gathering her group of helpers, and co-swimmers, reconnoitering the swims and finally the completion of her project.

Vanessa Dawes – length of Lough Mask, 2018

Marie Watson

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Marie Watson told us how she came from non-swimming to a world first, the swim to Fastnet Rock; 18km. Her journey started with learning the basics, swimming first in wet-suit then ditching that in favour of “skins” for the Fastnet swim.

Carol Cashel

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Carol Cashel made the transition from pool to open water with some trials on the way. Even coming from a competitive swimming background she said; “it was not easy…” In the beginning she hated it, no lanes to guide her, no blue line on the floor and other swimmers in “her space”. It took several swims to iron out the difficulties and, like each of us, she has learned valuable lessons from her failed swims. No swim is ever wasted and research and preparation are key;

“that’s what we do, as swimmers we are very stubborn – if we get an idea we will, to the best of our ability, just get on with it and get it done…”

Carol Cashel – circumnavigation of Bere Island, 2018

Lisa Cummins

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Lisa Cummins focused on her lessons learned from achievements over the years, from a 2-way English Channel solo in 2009 to a 2-lap Manhattan Island, 2018:

Lesson 1                Don’t train through injury – for the sake of a short rest period at the time of injury one could save oneself years of recurring problems

Lesson 2                Don’t be afraid to dream big – Planning a 2-way English Channel as her first channel attempt; “I felt with the work I’d put in that I’d swim across, then turn around and see what happens. At least I’d always have a 1-way… I didn’t realise at the time it was such a naïve way to think…”

Lesson 3                Not everything goes to plan

Lesson 4                Don’t try something new on the day

What’s next? “For now, I’m chilling out and doing shorter swims.”

Awards;

2019 ILDSA Award Winners List

Juvenile Best Newcomer                                                   Jack Bingham

(Sponsored by Bingo Bus)

Juvenile Best Newcomer Runner Up                          Sabian Kulczynski

(Sponsored by Bangor Boat)

Senior Best Newcomer                                                  Audrey Burkley

(Sponsored by Ei Travel Group)

Ted Keenan Ulster Swimmer of the Year                 Gary Knox

(Sponsored by Infinity Channel Swimming)

Páraic Casey Munster Swimmer of the Year          Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Wild Water Adventures)

Connaught Swimmer of the Year                                Fergal Madden

(Sponsored by Aqualine) 

Leinster Swimmer of the Year                                     Vanessa Daws

(Sponsored by Leinster Open Sea)

Best Organised Open Water Swim                                Liffey Swim

(Sponsored by Dublin City Council Events Section)

 Sheena Paterson Spirit of Open Water Swimming               Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers

(Sponsored by Swim Ireland)

Shane Moraghan Award Best Overseas Performance by an Irish Open Water/Marathon Swimmer

(Sponsored by Half Moon Swimming Club)                     Lisa Cummins

Margaret Smith Award                                                        Infinity Group

(Sponsored by Global Swim Series)

Open Water Swim Performance of the Year               Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Swim Ulster)

Junior Swimmer of the Year                                             Sabian Kulczynski

(Sponsored by New Wave Swim Buoy)

Female Senior Swimmer of the Year                             Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Pier 36)

Male Swimmer of the Year                                               Ion Lazarenco Tiron

(Sponsored by Pier 36)

 

Lisa Cummins: 

Páraic Casey Munster Swimmer of the Year – Shane Moraghan Award Best for Overseas Performance by an Irish Open Water/Marathon Swimmer – Female Swimmer of the Year 2018.

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Ion Lazarenzo Tiron:

 

Irish Open Water Swimmer of the year – Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame,

Seven Oceans Swimmer.

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He has also been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for his #SwimOfPeace, Moldova.

“Believe in your dreams….my objective; the message of peace…I thought; if I do all these swims they will listen, and they did…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7PxMEC9hVk

8th person to complete the Oceans Seven and the first to complete each crossing on his 1st attempt.

The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association event couldn’t have happened without the help of so many people and sponsors. Thanks to Stephen Millar, Caroline Grierson, Anne-Louise Docherty, Heather Grierson, Joao Santos and Gary Knox to name but a few.

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After an evening meal and socializing a Stormont Hotel, Belfast, Sunday saw just a few souls brave the water at Helen’s Bay for a quick dip – a frosty but beautifully sunny morning.

Safe journey home to all!

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Thank you, Brian Meharg (Bangor Boats) author of Bangors’ first Children’s book; The Legend of Jenny Watt – for an impromptu book signing at the water’s edge.

http://bangorboat.com/jenny-watt-bangor-childrens-book/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz5BAbyaLLQ

Couch to 5k Swim 2019

couch to 5k-2019

Coming to Lough Erne for the third year running!

The Couch to 5k Swim Programme over the past two years has seen swimmers of various levels from new to open water, to seasoned swimmers working on building their endurance and speed.

The 2019 format will consist of five fortnightly coached sessions focusing on swim technique, skills and building endurance towards the end goal of either The Ted Keenan Mile or 5k ILDSA open water events. Swimmers are free to choose whether to wear a wet-suit or not.

Sponsored by Waterways Ireland

The primary venue is Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea

Dates and times to be finalised.

Coaches: Maureen McCoy, Paul McCambridge, Kealan McCambridge

Watch this space…

Info at swimfree4@gmail.com

Keem – Achill Island, County Mayo

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Words and Photos by Maureen McCoy

One of the most popular beaches on Achill Island although never over-crowded is the picturesque Keem. The first view of this strand set in a steep amphitheatre under the Benmore cliffs is from high above on the vertiginous road that winds up from Dooagh village. With the sun lighting up the deep water, the colours range from bright turquoise darkening to teal green against the vibrant bright green grass on the slopes of Benmore. Although a popular beach, Keem is never crowded and even at the height of tourist season you can find a quiet swim here.

It was from this strand that fishermen would launch their curraghs in search of Basking sharks, right up until the 1950’s. Swim around the rocks to the left of the beach where at low tide several secluded sandy coves are revealed. Family swimming.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4

Getting there; from Belfast take the M1 then A4 through Enniskillen and continue on to the N16 to Sligo. From Sligo take the N4 turning onto the N17 and heading towards Tobercurry and Charlestown. Just past Charlestown take the N5 to Castlebar, from here take the R311 to Newport then onto the N59. At Mulrany the R319 brings you over the bridge and onto Achill, follow this road right to the end and you arrive at Keem beach.

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Google maps; https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Keem+Beach/@53.967365,-10.1966858,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x485996667294571f:0x75ee86cee21e0970!8m2!3d53.9671631!4d-10.1928951