Event: Christmas Day Swim
Location: Garryvoe Beach, East Cork
For some the Christmas Day swim has become a tradition. This is a bit of fun that has raised money for charities over the years.
The annual Ballycotton lifeboat Christmas Day swim took place at Garryvoe Beach in East Cork. John raised the lifeboat flag at 7:30am heralding the event that was to take place in a few hours time. It was a fine sunny day and the cars started arriving at the beach from 11:00 am. By 11:50 the car park was full. For some the dinner was in the oven and they were taking time out to support this hardy band of people. For others, they were taking a detour on their way home from Mass. Wherever they were coming from this was not a day to be late. The fun starts at 12 noon on the dot.
The Ballycotton lifeboat crew gathered at the lifeboat station and prepared to support the swimmers. Lifeboat volunteer, Niall, said that for him this has become part of his Christmas Day tradition. For Eolan and Stephen they got to see what the Christmas Day swim hype was all about. Conditions were ideal for the swimmers but the Ballycotton lifeboat boarding boat would travel across Ballycotton Bay to Garryvoe to be on hand should they be needed.
For this one day in the year it is not unusual to see people strolling around in bath robes and dressing gowns. Shane thought he would like to see what it was like to swim in the ocean on Christmas morning and brought his friends along. Alanah from Ballincollig wanted to raise funds for charity and chose the Ballycotton lifeboat Christmas Day swim. The lifeboat swimmers took a last photograph behind the lifeboat banner, perhaps for next year’s family Christmas card, and off they went. Lotty, Andrea, Geraldine and many others stood by with the towels and warm clothes for their loved ones. When Ralph emerged from the water he thought it was a little colder than last year (or else he was getting a little older!). That didn’t stop him going in again though.
The beach was thronged with well wishers. The revellers were slow to leave the beautiful day behind them. But the turkey was calling and with a last Christmas greeting to family and friends they headed for home.
Bláthnaid Lane Walsh
Ballycotton lifeboat station