‘The Towel Run’ – Sandycove Island Swim 2019

 

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

Words Maureen McCoy, Photography Paul McCambridge

 

Ned, as is his usual want to goad me whenever he sees me, for not having swum Sandycove Island. This July at the Lough Erne 17k he “upped the anti” by brandishing a large white towel with a list of names adorning it – English Channel Swimmers who’ve done a lap of Sandycove…

“You have to do your lap to get your name on this.”

 

So here I am, almost two months later, signed on the dotted line for the Sandycove Island Swim, along with 200 plus other swimmers – the draw of the towel proved too strong!

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

The forecast was not promising for the day with rain and wind due to drive in in the afternoon, around the time the race was scheduled to start.

Arriving in Kinsale with half an hour to spare for registration I collected my cap and time-chip from the organisers stationed at Hamlets and then caught up with some of the swimmers from the 7 Lakes challenge the previous weekend.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4pm and the rain was lashing down! Umbrellas up as sodden swimmers gathered at the bottom of the road. Two Myrtleville Turtles vainly tried to stay warm zipped together into one dry-robe…

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

During the briefing Ned announced that the course would be brought inside the island – with the wind making it “quite lumpy” and a fog rolling in it would be unsuitable for many swimmers to do ‘The Lap’.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

My fears of a mad crash of swimmers all vying for space were alleviated when it was clear that we’d set off in waves of 30 – fastest swimmers first. “So if your number is 185, you will be waiting around for ten minutes or so. Stay as warm as you can…Ha!”

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4.30pm and numbers 1 – 30 were called to line up and ticked off the list as they ran onto the slipway. The horn sounded and they were off as the next 30 lined up. The starts were quick, smooth and well executed.

The course; out towards the island, rounding the first large yellow buoy and then along the lee of the island, turn at the farthest buoy and return to the unmissable bright orange FINISH line.

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©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

After standing about in the pelting rain the sea was welcomingly warm, a short tussle on the way to the first buoy and then, after the turn, the field opened up and I could relax into my stroke across the bay.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim

On rounding the far buoy my latent competitive urges piqued as I was flanked by two swimmers – one “skins” and the other wetsuit. I tried not to drop too far behind as the three of us raced our way in.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim, Mo

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim.

The rain was still pelting down as we hit the time check and climbed up the slipway, no hanging about – we each grabbed our gear and ran back to cars or vans for shelter.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge /  Sandycove Island Swim

Waiting for the traffic to clear we watched as the last of the organisers and boat crew were leaving and one lone swimmer came past on her bicycle. Through the pouring rain, water streaming down the road under her wheels, her black dry-robe flapping in the wind like something out of Harry Potter, she disappeared over the brow of the hill.

It was at that moment I realised – I still hadn’t done a lap of the island – I wouldn’t get my towel!

Link to results… Cork Masters Results

Neddie Irwin… 1st swimmer home

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Neddie Irwin –  Sandycove Island Swim

That evening the celebrations took us from Hamlets to dinner at Cru restaurant and then onto a local bar with live music and dancing!

Waking on Sunday morning to bright sunshine streaming through the windows, I was glad to see a complete turn-around of the weather having arranged to meet Ned for my lap of the island.

As we walked down the beach the tide was fast on its way out and Ned asked; “Have you ever swum around the island?”

“Yes.” I replied, “But you didn’t believe me and said it had to be witnessed!”

“Sounds like something I’d say.” he laughed.

“We need to go now though – soon there won’t be any water to swim!” Adding, “Whatever you do don’t walk on the rocks – your feet will be cut to pieces”

As we paddled in it seemed this would be more walk than swim and soon we were using a mix of crawl, sculling and good old crocodile crawling.

At one stage Ned managed to get completely stuck in the shallows – 6foot 6 of legs and arms “turtled” as he rolled about trying to find some water! As I giggled at the sight, I promptly ran aground myself and had to wiggle my own way across trying to avoid scrapes!

Finally outside the island we made it to deep water and a lively swim to the far corner. Here the breaking waves allowed us to surf in before returning to the slipway – my official lap done!

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©Paul McCambridge / Ned at Sandycove with bloodied knees – thanks for the guided swim and lunch!

Back at Ned’s we enjoyed the craic and a tasty lunch of steak and mushrooms all served up on Syrian bread and washed down with creamy hot chocolate – lovely, thank you Ned.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim,

Thanks also to all the hard working and drenched organisers and volunteers for a super event.

Links to Sandycove Swimmers + Cork Masters

7 – Swims Challenge!!! – Wicklow 2019

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Upper Glendalough

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photos by Paul McCambridge

The Seven Lakes charity swim challenge started for us on the Friday afternoon. All packed with a bundle of towels, copious swimsuits and a huge parcel of snacks to keep us going for the two days, we headed south. It was a scorcher of a day which held great hopes for the weekend.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaSt Kevin's Way, Wicklow Gap

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media St Kevin’s Way, Wicklow Gap

Seven 1k swims in seven different loughs in the Wicklow Mountains could be made or broken by the fickle Irish weather.

Arriving in the early evening to the proposed first lough high in the Wicklow Gap we found a scenic parking spot to watch the sun go down over St Kevin’s Way. The evening light turned the land from brown to a deep glowing copper and the sky took on a hazy pink hue before the stars took the stage on a clear cool night.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Upper Glendalough

Early in the morning two Dublin Mini coaches pulled up and started spilling out swimmers with cries of “Where’s the lough then?” as they hauled bags from the rear.

Lough Nahanagan, a short drive below us past Danger and Keep Out signs, was perhaps not the wisest nor the most attractive place to venture for a swim! As we poured out of our coaches for this deliberation the barrier gate to the hydro-electricity plant was quickly and quietly drawn shut -security battening down the hatches against a group of rough-shod climate change protesters?

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge

None of us felt inclined to find out first hand how far electricity can arc or test the effects of electricity and water on the human body and so the unanimous decision was to move on to the rather safer option of Upper Glendalough.

Pilling back on board the coaches, I guess to the relief of the plant management, we tootled down the valley to the Glen of Two Lakes, already welcoming its first visitors of the day.

Startling those morning sightseers, we stripped down to our swim gear with the mist clearing and the lough perfectly still, just a hint of haze along the valley.

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual MediaGer Carty, Glöndalough

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual Media, Glendalough

The plan; to swim out 500m and when the first swimmer hit that distance and turned, we would all return to shore – I’m not sure if those first swimmers heard that instruction as they hurtled off like steam trains down the lake towards the rising sun.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge  Upper Glendalough

Now fully wakened we padded and waddled our way along the boardwalk to the Lower lough for swim 2. Once again treating the well-dressed walkers and tourists with their chic hiking boots to the sight of a motley bunch of swimmers in a plethora of hoodies and dry-robes, towels wrapped around their lower halves and squelching flip flops.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLower Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Lower Glendalough

The deer peeping out through the long grass, however, didn’t seem too perturbed at our fashion parade.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLower Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge Lower Glendalough

Thankfully none of us caught a glimpse of the monster in the lough who used to prey on the congregation way back in St Kevin’s time.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaGlendalough Lower

©Paul McCambridge Glendalough Lower

Next to Vartry Reservoir and, standing on the stony shore as the wind picked up a little, we prepared for a cooler dip. A pleasant surprise when it felt warmer. We were all well into our stride now and headed off down the lake in companionable strokes, bright coloured hats a striking contrast against the grey water. On reaching 500m a circle was formed – feet in the centre, sculling to hold form; little kicks in the centre – “Right leg – up! Left leg -up! Two legs – up!” And…sink, before returning to shore – another 1k done.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaVartry Reservoir

©Paul McCambridge Vartry Reservoir

Side-note; when the water is low here you can see the stone walls underwater, the remains of the village that lay in the valley before it was flooded in 1863.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaVartry Reservoir

©Paul McCambridge  Vartry Reservoir

Back to Roundwood and a picnic lunch; 3 swims down – 4 to go.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Dan

©Paul McCambridge  Lough Dan

Now, Lough Dan and what had been referred to as “A bit of a hike…” took the best part of an hour for us all to get down to the lake – with some grumblings. The water was low and as most started the long trek through the shallows, five of us went rogue and explored the river which flows into the lake. It started promisingly with us managing front crawl to the first bend. But from here on it was shallow, forcing us to scull, dog paddle and use the good old “crocodile crawl” to wend our way to the main lough. Still, we were off-grid and “venturing through the wilds…”

Once in the main lough we joined the group. Coursing through the blackness I could see tiny golden bubbles rising from my hands as I disturbed the silky water – from black, through gold to the surface grey sky above.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaCooper's Creek, Lough Dan

©Paul McCambridge Cooper’s Creek, Lough Dan

With not enough time and unlikely to get access to the Guinness lake, swim number 5 was re-scheduled to be a dip in the rockpool just below the bridge on our return walk. We had now re-named this river Coopers Creek. Clare once again led the way in, clambering over the rocks. Our circle was formed, this time perched on boulders and an attempt made at the syncro routine.

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual MediaCoopers Creek, nr Lough Dan

©Maureen McCoy, Coopers Creek, Lough Dan

For a final flourish, we each ducked into the small space behind the tiny fall to look out through the curtain of water streaming into the pool.

 

The first mizzle and rain of the day caught up with us on the steep climb back up to the road. Un-daunted we had only two swims to go – Upper and Lower Loughs Bray.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge Lough Bray Upper

These were the coldest of the day, the skies were grey and the light rain whisped through as we clambered inelegantly over rocks and stumbled our way in to each of these loughs.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge Lough Bray Upper

7 swims completed and still enough time to bathe with Fia’s Lake Soap from her native Sweden in preparation for our reservations at the Merry Ploughboy.

©Maureen McCoy/ MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Lower

©Maureen McCoy Lough Bray Lower

We all smelt quite lovely at dinner!

The 7 Lakes Swim Challenge drew two coachloads of seasoned outdoor swimmers, from Channel swimmers and Ice-milers to Wild swimmers, all ready for an adventurous day out with a great deal of craic raising money for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland;

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Lower

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Lough Bray Lower

If you would like to donate, please click on the link;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marathonmantoironman

Thank you all for a brilliant day!

Thanks to all the organisers including; Fia, Sarah (Aqualine) who printed the T-shirts, the two Stephens, Kevin and the ever patient drivers Daniel and Liam.

 

 

 

 

Couch to 5k – 2019

 

Couch to 5k 31

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.

Couch to 5k 14

Couch to 5k 21

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.

Couch to 5k 28

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.

Couch to 5k 32

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.

Couch to 5k 30

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.

 

Couch to 5k 33

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!

Couch to 5k 20

 

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;

 

Couch to 5k 17

 

 

Female Skins                                                                        Male Skins

1st        Caroline Ogle                                                           1st        Ray Smith

2nd       Joanne O’Neill

3rd        Bronagh Corrigan

 

Couch to 5k 19

@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

 

Couch to 5k 18

Bonus results for Ct5k Swimmers;

Couch to 5k 22

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

*******************

 

https://wildswim.wordpress.com/

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/

https://sharevillage.org/

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

 

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

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 53a

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

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 15a

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

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 18a

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

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 17a

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

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 35a

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.

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 51a

 

Ion Lazarenzo Tiron:

 

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

Seven Oceans Swimmer.

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 52a

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.

*******************

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!

190209MAC - ILDSA Awards 05a

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

wild swimming in ireland 08a

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.

wild swimming in ireland 07a

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

Trá an Doilin – Co Galway

Trá an Doilin – Carraroe Co Galway

Tra an Doilin 2

 

Words by Maureen McCoy, photos by Paul McCambridge

At the mouth of Galway bay, between Casla Bay and Greatman’s Bay lies one of the most extraordinary beaches in Ireland; Tra an Doilin, or the Coral Beach. Made not of sand but of millions of pieces of what looks like coral in myriad colours. Scoop a handful of this coralline algae known as maerl and it gleams with the mother of pearl of minute shells, miniscule pieces of coral amongst tiny branches of delicate underwater plants, the colours ranging from purple, orange, yellow, fading out to pure bleached white.

Tra an Doilin 1

Swim in the clear water of any of the series of tiny coves between the rocky outcrops while the countless colours beneath catch the light – a must see on the west coast. Tread carefully as you explore the rocks pools and coves because maerl, while beautiful, is sharp on bare feet.

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

Getting there; from Galway city take the R336 cast road west past Connemara airport. At Casla, turn left onto the R343 and follow the signs for Carraroe. Drive through the village and look for the sign for Tra an Doilin which brings you to the car park and beach.