herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Thrill-seekers take plunge all year round at Forty Foot

Barbara Wilson pictured at The 40 Foot yesterday
Barbara Wilson pictured at The 40 Foot yesterday

Dublin's swimmers are a hardy bunch and the Forty Foot is one of their favoured bathing spots.

The deep waters in Dun Laoghaire are enjoyed throughout the summer.

But the serious swimmers and adrenaline junkies come all year round, rain or shine, to reap the benefits of the brisk waters of the Irish Sea.

"You just have to try it, it's the most fabulous feeling. I never get a cold," explains Barbara Wilson (45), who travels from Fairview once a week to take a dip.

The site was historically male-only until the 1970s when equal rights activists, known as the Dublin City Women's Invasion Force took to the waters from air, land and the sea.

Nell McCafferty launched her invasion by jumping off a rock with an umbrella, Mary D'Arcy by means of a small wooden boat, and Nuala Fennell, with her two children and husband, set up camp on a nearby rock.

A sign proclaiming the spot as a 'Gentleman's Bathing Place' still remains .

"There's a 'No Diving' sign too but everyone just seems to ignore it - so Irish," says Barbara.

"It's funny, you see lots of people jumping in today screaming, but the people that get in in the cold, in the middle of winter, they don't make a sound."

Rough

The Forty Foot is treasured by the entire community and you are never too old for a plunge. "You see people of all ages coming down for a swim. I met a very old lady, swimming in rough seas, she has been swimming here for the past 40 years. She's 93 years old," Barbara told the Herald.

The Christmas Day plunge has become a Dublin tradition and there has been a steady increase in those willing to brave the chilly temperatures.

Pat Swords (52) has been coming here since he was six years old.

"I do the Christmas plunge every year, it's cold but it really invigorates you," he said. "It's medically proven that a cold plunge is good for you but we need a hot sauna like the Finns.

"We're missing half the package down here."

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