TORY ISLAND AND THE KING OF TORY – RÍ THORAÍ

 

 

 

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 104a

By Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge

 

 

Tory Island lies 9 miles off the coast North-west Donegal. 3 miles long and 0.6 of a mile wide, it is a rugged and exposed outpost of Irish island life. The small population of 154, at the time we visit, had recently been swollen by 3 new babies, Patsy Dan, the King of Tory, proudly tells us. His vision and hope that the island will begin to regenerate seeing a flicker of life with these happy tidings.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 127a

In his Gaelic island lilt, Patsy Dan takes his duty as the King of Tory very seriously. All visitors are made welcome. Patsy, as far as his health will let him, comes down to the harbour to welcome the ferry each time it arrives. A striking figure, although not a large man, Patsy conjures an almost Pirate King image to me. A large gold ring in his ear, sailing cap on his head and sharply dressed in a dark double-breast pea coat with a gold “O” pin on his lapel he cuts a dapper stride. His silver car parked close by with the personalised plate; King of Tory.

211018 - Tory Island - Patsy Dan Rodgers 3a

Patsy Dan Rogers, the King of Tory, passed away Friday, 19th October 2018, after a long-term illness aged 74.

Having only met him last year over a few days on the island, I was struck by his welcoming manner. On learning we were there to explore the islands interesting swimming spots and the music and art that the island is famous for. He immediately insisted that we pitch our tent close beside the Dixon Gallery where he, Anton and other local artists exhibit their work, to shelter from the stormy weather due to hit that evening.

 

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 109ab

 

Patsy Dan described himself as a primitive artist and his paintings in the gallery hang alongside those of other family members. Although not born on the Island Patsy Dan was a great ambassador for the way of life there and it seems to me that they chose well on electing him King. The island has had a history of electing artists as their King. Born in Dublin he was adopted and came to the island around the age of four. A gifted musician and a natural storyteller he regaled us with stories both historical and recent of the island. Patsy Dan was also a great friend of the English artist Derek Hill who kept returning to Tory for close to 50 years. He described how Derek would spend days in his little studio/ ‘shack’ on the exposed northwest cliffs. He pressed the key into my hand and said “Go up and spend some time there when the weather clears, follow the track up from the road, just leave me the key back before you leave Tory!”

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 18aAfter a wet and windy night, the day was settled as we cycled out towards the light house then turned right up the rough path to the shack. Between the natural rock and sparse grass were great slabs of concrete, most with heavy and rusted metal hoops embedded in them. I guess a hangover from the old telegraph station.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 25a

Inside the shack is still as Derek had left it, a small table in the narrow entrance hall with a slate top, perhaps this is where Derek would place his camping stove to boil water as he worked. The one-roomed building has windows on 3 sides and a second table sits in front of the largest, looking inland. In the corner a cabinet houses a few collectables – an old soap flake package, Oxo tins, a kettle, tea pot and even his paint palette on a slate. Derek might have only just stepped out the door a moment ago.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 33a

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 24a

Looking across this craggy coastline with its cliffs and inlets, the rocks flayed with lines as though the sea, wind or both had whipped them repeatedly creating scars. I can see the draw for an artist to return year on year. How the light must change on the rock, sometimes grey, sometimes brown and even pink in the evening light.  The Atlantic, even on a calm day beats against the shore, whirlpools and sea-spray surging around the base of the cliffs and, as you follow the shoreline into one of numerous inlets the water is calm, the outer rocks taking the brunt of the ocean waves.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 45b

A wooden bench painted bright red and tethered down to large rocks, a makeshift solution after the original bolts had sheared off, provides a perfect seat to watch the changing elements. Just below a curved metal barrier hangs over the edge of the inlet and from this a steep and narrow stone staircase leads down to the water. The sun lights up the sea-weed under the surface as it sways gently in the crystal clear sea – who could resist?

 

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 90b

 

This northern shore of Tory Island has the high cliffs, taking all the battery of the sea and not far from Derek’s shack is a small walled graveyard called ‘The Foreign or Commonwealth Graveyard’. Still tended by the islanders this is the resting place of British sailors who’s ship the HMS Wasp sank here in 1884, with only 6 survivors from their 56 crew. Their mission was to vacate the island as their landlord owed over ten thousand pounds to the British government and HMS Wasp was going to collect rent and rates or remove the residents off the Island. As word filtered to Tory that the ship had left Westport, Co Mayo, two islanders carried the ‘Cursing Stone’ to the extremities of the island, praying that it would put upon the ship a curse from the heavens. The Gun Boat sank 23rd September 1884.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 06a

The island has had many years of battling to maintain its permanent residents, a fight Patsy Dan continued to struggle with as he tried to convince the government and others to invest in the islands infrastructure and improve access for tourism.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

A place for bird watchers, artists and poets, walking or off-road biking along this cliff top brings one past a series of inlets and inspiring rock formations. Approximately halfway along the island is a very narrow and extremely steep inlet that has two little gems for swimmers. The very steep grassy sides mean you must zig-zag your way carefully down to the waterside rocks. From here it’s a fairly easy climb down into the water, a large dark cavern gapes in the opposite wall. Swimming out of the sunlight into the darkness my heart beats faster, that nervousness of the unknown. My eyes take a moment to adjust to the dim light and I cannot stop myself from imagining all sorts of great sea creatures lurking in the shadows – quickly coming back into the safety of the light I spy a large rock near where I got in and I see a narrow gap behind. I slip through this gap into a tall circular chamber; an almost enclosed little pool.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

Tory has many swim spots to discover; on the east of the island at Port an Duin, right at the end of the road, two beaches frame the narrow land bridge leading out to Balor’s Fort and The Lovers’ Flagstone. Lying back to back, depending on which direction the wind is from, one or other of these can often be sheltered enough to swim.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 131b

Worth the trip and despite its small landmass, Tory has a lot to offer for a visit, music, art, swimming and bird watching.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

Thank you Patsy Dan, King of Tory for making us welcome.

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 214a

Advertisements

Couch to 5k Swim ’18

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 15a

Words Maureen McCoy

Photography Paul McCambridge and Kealan McCambridge

2018’s Couch to 5km Swim Programme ran throughout June and July with this summer treating us to extraordinarily good weather with clear skies, calm conditions and warm waters.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 04a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 05a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 06a

 

 

Over the past two months almost 50 swimmers have taken on the challenge of building their swim skills, technique and endurance towards competing in the ILDSA Lough Erne Championship event held on the 4th August.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 02a

Several of the swimmers had never ventured into open water before, some were learning a new stroke – Front Crawl, and others had the goal of improving their skills, confidence and endurance in open water.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 01a

Coaches and mentors Maureen McCoy, Kealan and Paul McCambridge from SWIMFREE Outdoor Swimming Association, have worked with each of the swimmers to improve technique, ensure their safety and guide them through the various challenges swimming outdoors can raise, ultimately preparing for the ILDSA Lough Erne event.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 13a

 

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 18a

 

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 12a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 11a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 28a

The culmination of their hard work was this Saturday when 30 of the Couch to 5k Swimmers completed the full 5 kilometre distance and 10 completed the Ted Keenan Mile swim.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 27a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 25a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 24a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 03a

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 07a

When all swimmers were safely and happily home, the ladies of Cootehill, Cavan and thereabouts played their final card – a picnic to rival all picnics! Alongside training and focusing on their own swims the ladies laid on the most wonderful spread of salads, cold cuts and cakes, all washed down with sparkling elderflower cordial… !

 

 

Swimmers took part in the Couch to 5k Swim Programme for many reasons and to mention one local man; Stephen Cooper of Enniskillen has been raising funds for Breast Cancer research. To date Stephen has raised just over £2500.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 14a

If you would like to donate;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-cooper-kirsty-burrell

 

SWIMFREE coaches and organisers would like to thank WATERWAYS IRELAND for their sponsorship and support of the programme. SHARE Discovery Village, for providing a fantastic venue, friendly and helpful staff. ILDSA for facilitating Couch to 5k Swimmers and Swim Ireland for providing swim caps to the participants.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 21a

The ILDSA has been running the Lough Erne 17km Irish Championship for over 25 years with the longer 25km distance added several years ago, both are “Skins” (ie non-wetsuit) swims, more recently adding 10k and 5k distances and this year was the first of the Ted Keenan Mile Swim.

 

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 22a

 

Couch to 5k Swimmers Results

Female Skins                                                             Male Skins

1st        Chrissy Lunny                                               1st        Tim Fagan

2nd       Polly Lyons                                                    2nd       Podge McKeon

3rd        Therese Macseain                                       3rd        Ray Smith

 

Female Wetsuit                                                       Male Wetsuit

1st        Nicola Burchmore                                      1st        Lee York

2nd       Ruth Durham                                              2nd       Stephen Cooper

3rd        Jenny Elliott York                                       3rd        Colm Connaughton

Well done all!

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 10a

 

 

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

 

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/

https://sharevillage.org/

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

Graduates Go to the Beach…

 

Ballyhornan Grads 13a

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photography by Paul McCambridge

Graduates Go to the Beach…

The blue waters of Lisburn pool may have seemed a little quiet last Thursday evening (14th June), the dwindling numbers were not due to a lack of enthusiasm though. No, a bunch of intrepid Graduates had in fact ventured outdoors.

Buoyed by the memory of previous such outings, a select few of us swapped the pool and instead headed to the beach at Ballyhornan.

After such a stormy Wednesday night and Thursday morning many feared the cancelation email would pop into their inbox. Do they not know their coach by now?

No wimping out!

Our little band of happy swimmers ready for their quest.

Ballyhornan Grads 11a 

Disclaimer: Had weather been truly bad, I assure you, I would have abandoned the swim in favour of the pub.

Ballyhornan Grads 10a

 

Despite the inclement day, the evening brightened and the wind eased. When we met at the beach at 6pm there was even a return of the sunshine we have grown accustomed to.

Soon the motley mad intrepid crew tootled their way to the water’s edge…

 

The Sea was crisp and fresh. Squeals of delight as we entered! Yes really, it WAS delight, NO ONE said it was FREEZING.

Ballyhornan Swim 1a

Ballyhornan Swim 6a

With a few acclimatisation practices we got underway – a short tester swim parallel to shore allowed us to settle our breathing and establish our beautifully relaxed and powerful strokes.

Ballyhornan Swim 2a

As our little party elegantly cruised along the bay we saw Terns swoop down to lift Fry from the water a little further out before soaring back up into the blue(ish) skies.

Ballyhornan Swim 9a

The briefest of squalls of rain allowed us to enjoy the magical experience and triggered a tuneful adaptation of a popular song: “We’re just Swimmin’ in the rain… what a Glor-ious feel-ing…”

Ballyhornan Swim 3a

As the skies cleared we retired from the water to later re-group at the Cuan in Strangford for a well-earned meal. Already planning next year’s outing!

 

Ballyhornan Grads 12a

Well done all with a special commendation to Adam and James, Waterpolo players who braved the elements sans wetsuit.

 

 

Ballyhornan Grads 14a 

  

Footnote: No Graduates were harmed during this adventure, all took part of their own volition. There was absolutely no intimidation, coercion or threats – coaches Mo and Paul deny any responsibility if anyone says otherwise.

Couch to 5k – 2018

Microsoft Word - Web Flyer CT5K 1g.docx

For your Open Water Swimming plans this Summer

@ Share Village

Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh

Developing Skills and Fitness

Coached Courses + Swim Program

5 x Sessions

Choice of Dates

Block 1 Saturdays 2nd June – 30th June

Block 2 Sundays 1st July – 29th July

Further Details and Enrolment

email;

swimfree4@gmail.com

 

UPDATED – “HO HO HO it’s CHRISSSMAS” – 2017 Festive Swims + Dips

Newcastle Xmas dip 1a web

Christmas Swims 2017

It’s time to dust off those Santa hats, shake up the Mistletoe and don the Festive Swim Suits as all over Ireland folks will be getting In the Swim to raise money for worthy causes… There’s bound to be a dip near you!

**********

Co Antrim

Portrush Santa Splash – 17th December 2017 – Arcadia Portrush
1.30pm

UPDATE – Photos of 2017 Santa Splash Below

**********

181216 - Santa Splash Portrush 11a copy

 

Co Down

Donaghadee – Chunky Dunkers – 12 swims of Christmas

A fun bunch who meet for daily dips

https://www.facebook.com/groups/319941478354115/permalink/486344695047125/

**********

Crawfordsburn Beach – Dare to Dip for Cancer Focus N.I. – New Year’s Day 11am
Every dipper will receive a free Cancer Focus NI t-shirt and hot drink after their swim.Fancy dress is encouraged- there will be a prize for the best outfit!

For more information call 028 9068 0788 or email challenge@cancerfocusni.org https://www.facebook.com/events/1677339799008125/

**********

Newcastle swim 2a web

 

 

Co Cork

Turkey Swims

https://myrtlevilleswimmers.com/category/events/

Sunday 26th November Sandycove 10am

Saturday 2nd December Sandycove 3pm

Sunday 10th December Sandycove 11am

Saturday 16th December Myrtleville 11am

Saturday 23rd December Fountainstown 10.30am

How the ‘Turkey Swims’ work:

** Swimmers Sign In and pay €2 on the day of Swim. (someone will have a money box and sign-in sheet – probably Carol, Angela or Eoin).

** Money Collected goes towards Prizes drawn on 23rd Dec at Fountainstown.

This is open to everyone who swims regularly in the Sea, no matter where they normally swim.  This is not exclusive to any club or group of swimmers

Info

Remember this is open to everyone who swims regularly in the Sea, no matter where they normally swim.  This is not exclusive to any club or group of swimmers, If you want to swim on a date, come along, find a swim buddy and join in, no matter where the swim is on! The Sandycove times are based on tides and at Myrtleville we can swim on any tide so there is a mix of Morning/afternoon times to try and suit all people over both days of the weekend.  Wetsuit, Skins, Fins, all welcome!

How the ‘Turkey Swims’ work:

** Swimmers Sign In and pay €2 on the day of Swim. (someone will have a money box and sign-in sheet – probably Carol, Angela or Eoin).

** Money Collected goes towards Prizes drawn on 23rd Dec at Fountainstown,

**********

Chunky Dunkers 1a web

Co Wexford

Carne Beach, Wexford – St.Stephen’s Day Swim – 26th December 12pm

In aid of Our Ladies Island N.S – Donations welcome on the day & sponsorship cards available from the school Tel: (053) 913 1113

Funds raised will go towards new playground equipment and painting the school.

**********

181216 - Santa Splash Portrush 12a copy

 

Polar Bear Plunge – Ireland and N. Ireland Venues

Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but we also provide our athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport.

By taking part in a fundraising event like the Polar Plunge, you are changing lives.

Polar Plunge is one of our biggest fundraising events of the year thanks to the hundreds of plungers who take to the water across the country.

Registration fee is €20 and we ask that you fundraise an extra €50 to help support the programme and our athletes.

By fundraising for Special Olympics Ireland you are helping to change the lives of thousands of athletes all over Ireland.

 

 

**********

Co Monaghan

Hollywood Lake – Near Scotstown – 24th December 2017

Mucking Triathlon Club

Christmas Eve Charity Swim in Aid of – Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

https://www.facebook.com/MucknoTriathlonClub/

**********

Photographs of Santa Splash 2017 in Aid of Aware NI – Portrush.

 

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Santa Splash in Aid of Aware NI

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

The Wilson Family enjoying the festive splash

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

The maestro of Santa Splash Stephen McConnell

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

 

 

 

Couch To 5km…

 

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 33 copy

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photography by Paul McCambridge

Taking the Couch to 5k running premise into open water swimming was always going to be a challenge but we decided we would attempt it. Our aim; To bring novice swimmers into the outdoors and take the whole group together on a swimming journey. The bonus would be to complete the Irish Long Distance Swimming Associations (ILDSA) 5k event on 5th August. We were not short of enthusiastic Lake-landers who chose to take it on.

After only ten weeks of training, 16 swimmers completed the swim from Culky Jetty to the Lakeland Forum.

Share WEB USE PIC

We started the programme in early June and met our swimmers for the first time at the Share Centre, Lisnaskea. For many this was their first venture into open water and they were somewhat nervous. Lough Erne waterways are not the chlorinated blue of the swimming pool with guide-lines painted along the floor and the deep end clearly marked. Here, there are no walls to stop and rest at and the great expanse of the lough can make one feel rather vulnerable.

 

Having spent our first few sessions in the relative security of the Share Centre bay, we then went to a “wild” swim spot at Ely Lodge Forest, near Carrickreagh Jetty. As Paul and I set out the markers for the swim course, the group chatted nervously among themselves and geared up for an abrupt jump in from the jetty into these new, unknown waters. Gritting their teeth and determining they would “go for it” on this swim. We then called them together for their pre-swim briefing; “Instead of entering at the jetty, we’ll walk in here and ease our way through the reeds.” This slow and gentle transition from land to water marked an increased understanding for many.

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 01 copy

Outdoor swimming is not about times and distances, it is about exploring and enjoying, it can become an adventure in a morning, an afternoon or evening. It is about being connected and immersed, time and distance covered are secondary to the senses and sensations. This, particularly for one of the less confident swimmers, was a turning point. To stop comparing and berating oneself for being slow or cataloguing distances, instead to marvel in one’s own progression and achievement. To really experience what we are doing, at the time of doing.

 

Carrying this new-found knowledge and confidence and with a long swim under their belts, the challenges were then ramped up with a circumnavigation of Devenish Island.

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 30 copy

On the 29th July, only nine weeks into training, the group undertook their most exposed swim yet. Accompanied by Darragh, Conleth and Kealan in kayaks, thirteen swimmers, Paul and I entered at Trory Jetty for the approximate 3.8k swim around the island.

 

The swim across to re-group at Devenish Jetty gave us opportunity to iron out any niggles. Goggles were fixed, photos taken and then we set off. The shallow waters around Friar’s Leap brought the challenge of swimming through heavily weeded sections. Then the stretch along the far side past Devenish West Jetty, began to feel like it would never end. Where was the top of this island?

As we finally rounded the top of Devenish swans watched us from the cover of the tall reeds and a large Heron passed overhead. Through those same reeds, we could just make out the shore and not much farther, Trory Jetty, our finish point. Relief was visible as we turned into the sheltered lee of the island, the toughest swim to date.

 

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 34 copy

One week later, the sun was out, nerves were increasing and the ILDSA event was about to get underway. The ILDSA Championship Swim in Lough Erne is in its 26th year, 17k being the main event then some years ago a 25k swim was added. Now, to attract more swimmers, the shorter distances of 10 and 5k have been added. As we waited at Culky Jetty to start, our eyes were peeled for the lead swimmer to come through, then we would be popped in the water to begin our swim to the Lakeland Forum.

Sunshine beamed down on us as we waited with high spirits. Ciara Doran led the 17k, with cheers and clapping the swimmers were spurred on and now keen to get started themselves. This was it, all training done; “I’ll see you at the finish!”

 

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 06 copy

Line up, countdown and off. Chaperoned by our kayakers and kayaks and paddleboarders from Erne Paddlers, they were underway.

 

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 08 copy

All sixteen Couch to 5k swimmers completed the distance in faster times than estimated. Most wore wetsuits, however two swam “skins” – meaning a normal swim suit.

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 29 copy

Inspired by the 25k and 17k Championship swimmers, who must only wear swim suits, many of the couch to 5k are planning to remove their wetsuits for the next time!

Paul and I would like to thank John Boyle of Waterways Ireland who sponsored this pilot event. Our kayakers, Darragh, Conleth and Kealan McCambridge who gave great encouragement to the swimmers throughout the programme.

Robert Livingstone of the Share Centre and his staff for use of the excellent facilities at Share. Erne Paddlers and the ILDSA event organisers for allowing us to join the 5k event and swim in wetsuits.

(Wetsuit times were recorded separately from “skins” swimmers.)

Finally, well done to all the Couch to 5k participants. Of the 20 who attended the course, 3 decided a shorter distance would be more within their capabilities (one of whom swam Devenish) and one swimmer was on holiday – I am expecting a report that he competed a suitable long swim while there!

So pleased to have set you on this journey!

@MAC Visual Media - Paul McCambridge

Testimonials

Thanks so much to Maureen, Paul and the 3 lads for all their help and encouragement. The course was inspirational and transformative, a master class. – B M

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 27 copy

… thank you Mo, Paul and all the lads for Kayak support. What a top class course and an unforgettable event yesterday. Truly inspirational and looking forward to Long Distance swimming with you guys for the future. – E C

erwin

Totally appreciate all the time, effort and commitment that went into getting us further in our swimming than I ever thought possible. Such inspirational, encouraging people. Proud to know you. – M E

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 22 copy

Thanks so much guys. – J B

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 17 copy

A year ago, I would have laughed at anyone suggesting I could do a 5k swim. I just needed a bit of a push! …it was inspiring to see the longer distance swimmers and consider what the next challenge might be.  Thanks again for all your hard work organising the course and for all your encouragement and overall positivity. – T F

@MAC Visual Media - Paul McCambridge

Thanks Maureen and Paul, great event and few weeks training –  T B

050817 - Couch to 5k Swim 11 copy

Thanks again Maureen, Paul and kayak support over the weeks. Really enjoyed the whole experience. – P L

@MAC Visual Media - Paul McCambridge

Mermaid – Short Documentary

A Short documentary about wild swimmer Maureen McCoy. This film explores the origins of Maureen’s passion for outdoor swimming, and how it continues to influence who she is today.

Director: Kitty Camilleri
Producers: Kitty Camilleri and Natalia Witkowska
DP: Natalia Witkowska
Editor: Natalia Witkowska