Long a Christmas tradition, the swims attracted those brave enough to don the swimming costumes and others content to cheer on — or laugh at — those taking part.
The weather on land was not as challenging as in past years as people took the plunge around the country for a variety of charitable causes. The Christmas Day swim at Garretstown, Co Cork, was organised by Kilmacsimon Rowing Club, in aid of Kate Flynn, Cobh.
Kate, who is 18 months old, has had dozens of episodes where her breathing has stopped — so she spends more than 20 hours a day hooked up to a ventilator and also has a tracheostomy.
She is in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and friends of the family have started a campaign to help the Flynns meet their costs, including converting a room in their Cobh home for Kate, so they can bring her home. Kate’s family hope this will happen in 2015.
In Dublin at the famous Forty Foot in Dún Laoghaire, hundreds of people swapped dinner preparations and selection boxes for a dive into the waters, while down the coast in Greystones in Co Wicklow another large crowd turned out for the dip.
Ireland and Leinster prop Cian Healy was among those launching themselves into the water at the Bull Wall swimming shelter in Clontarf in aid of The Children’s Medical Research Foundation at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
In Lahinch in Co Clare about 530 swimmers took a dip as they marked 25 years of the event in the coastal town, while down in Clonakilty in West Cork another large crowd took part in the town’s 33rd Christmas Day swim at Inchydoney Beach.
One of the largest crowds of the day gathered at Fenit in Co Kerry, with 1,200 people greeted by glorious winter sunshine and clear blue sky at Locke’s Beach, with around 600 people taking to the water. Those looking on or gathering in the car park were met by suitably festive music while members of RNLI Fenit Lifeboat Station served up a variety of seasonal refreshments. At 11.55am there was a lively rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ before the traditional charge to the sea at noon.
The sizeable collection went to the RNLI Fenit Lifeboat Station, whose members were in position with their collection boxes from 11am and were generously supported by the large crowd.
In the West, the Christmas Day Swim at Blackrock in Salthill attracted a large crowd, while other swims took place in Rosses Point in Sligo, Kinsale and Coolmaine in Co Cork, Bertra Beach near Westport in Co Mayo, and many other locations around the country.