FOURTEEN brave women and four men bared all to battle cancer last Saturday morning.
The second skinny dip in the Shannon at Worlds End in Castleconnell was organised by a group of women in Limerick and Clare, whose lives have been touched by cancer either through themselves or a loved one.
They joined together in solidarity at Castleconnell Boat Club last Saturday morning. One of the organisers, Maura Turner, Corbally, said they even drew a crowd at 6.30am.
“There were two swans and their cygnets watching us with cautious curiosity. With the same curiosity we eyed the slow flowing water in the Shannon, wondering if it was freezing and stayed wrapped in our pink towels a moment longer.
“At 6.30am the rain stopped, the air cleared and one could ‘almost’ imagine the sun shining. So with a shout of ‘here we go, here we go’ we plunged in and encouraged those who dawdled at the edge to do likewise. The swans had long since moved their brood to the far side of the river - too much exposure of flesh for their young to witness!” laughed Maura.
And while running naked in to a river with friends and strangers may frighten the majority of us Maura says there was no embarrassment.
“It was all so natural and just good fun. The words on the balloons gave us encouragement,” said Maura. They said “supporting the fighters”; “admiring the survivors”; “honouring the taken” and “never, ever, giving up hope”. Last year it was a female only event but this time four men went for a skinny dip.
“After we emerged with bravado shouts of ‘oh the waters not bad’ they disappeared indoors. The group of men appeared. Four brave souls trooped down to the waters edge, cajoled in to wrapping in pink towels and they too plunged in.
“To be fair it was pouring rain but in they went. At least that’s what they told us! And fair play to them for joining in this great event, where all the participants showed courage in baring all and quickly dipping while some stayed in for several minutes,” said Maura.
The purpose of the skinny dip is to raise awareness for people to go and have that first breast/prostate check.
“Some of the Dippers have had cancer, others have experienced this through their family or friends and all were unanimous in their determination to take the plunge. And of course to raise funds for the new breast cancer unit in the Regional Hospital. If you would like to make a contribution please email firstname.lastname@example.org ,” said Maura. They have raised over €1,000 so far with more coming in.
They wished to thank Castleconnell Boat Club for allowing them to use their facilities; Mary Hughes and Gobnait Kelly for providing hot beverages and homemade scones and the photographers Angela Horsfall, Horsfall Photography, Killaloe and Tony O’Donnell Photography, Fedamore.
“They were professional and sensitive throughout and ably captured the sense of fun and enjoyment of this special event,” said Maura.