Make a big splash at Christmas swims

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

WITH the weather expected to turn fresher early next week, it will certainly be refreshing to go for a swim on Christmas Day.

WITH the weather expected to turn fresher early next week, it will certainly be refreshing to go for a swim on Christmas Day.

Bumper crowds are expected for the annual Christmas Day swims in Castleconnell and Newport.

Players and supporters of Lisnagry FC and Newport RFC will be taking a dip to raise money.

Chairman of Lisnagry FC, Ed Bourke, says there is a lot of talk about The Gathering and the World’s End next Tuesday symbolises its purpose.

“If you go down to the river on Christmas morning there are people you won’t have seen for years. They could be home from abroad or a different part of the country. There is a lovely community atmosphere,” said Mr Bourke.

The swim in the Shannon takes place after 11.30am Mass so generally gets underway around 12.30pm.

“It is a tradition - people go to Mass and then come down and have a glass of punch before their dinners. It’s part and parcel of Christmas,” said Mr Bourke.

Last year was they first time they could have an official swim in Castleconnell in three years; 2009 had to be called off due to flooding and 2010 because of the -15 temperatures.

Around 30 dipped their toes and rest of their bodies in the Shannon, while hundreds turned up to watch.

Lisnagry FC club members are busy going around with sponsorship cards at the moment.

“The grants aren’t there to help us so we are trying to do it all ourselves.

“All the money raised will go into our field development works in Scanlan Park.

“We have safety officers in the water and no juveniles are allowed to go in unless they are with an adult,” said Mr Bourke.

The youngsters will be rewarded with soft drinks, while hot punch courtesy of Charco’s will help the adults’ body temperatures return to normal.

The Leader understands that on occasion the fun lasted so longs that a few turkeys have been very well done!

Newport’s Christmas swim starts slightly later - after noon Mass, around 12.45pm. Last year they celebrated their 40th Christmas swim, founded by the late Martin O’Sullivan.

His wife, Mary Jo O’Sullivan, of The Freigh Inn and president of Newport RFC, provides the hot drinks for those who jump into the Newport river. Crowds line up along the Ivy bridge to cheer them on. They swim under the bridge and come out at the Old Church Lane.

Eugene Hanrahan, of Newport RFC, says it is a fixture in the calendar.

“Lads get sponsored and we collect money for a local charity.

“Sometimes it is a question of getting in and out but last year was grand. They actually went for a swim for the first time in a while,” said Mr Hanrahan, who is hoping for a good flow of water.

All are welcome to join in the festivities in Castleconnell and Newport and whet their appetite for the turkey and ham.