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23rd Dec 2021

The story of the Donegal man who’s swimming in every port and beach in Ireland to raise funds for local counselling service

Fiona Frawley

Man standing on a beach in swimming trunks with an orange and white towel wrapped around him, looking at the camera

Warning: extremely wholesome, feel-good content incoming.

Over the past year or so, many of us have hopped on the sea swimming bandwagon. Mostly just to be able to justify treating ourselves to a dryrobe and telling everyone who’ll listen about how “it’s actually grand once you get in”.

However, 80 year old Paddy Conaghan is taking things to the next level.

The Arranmore Island native is in the throws of a charity event during which he’s taking a swim in every pier, bay and beach he comes across while travelling all over Ireland in his van.

At the moment he’s in Clare, with an agenda to swim in Spanish Point Beach, followed by White Strand, Miltown Malbay and Seafield, Quilty. Then after lunch he’ll hit up White Strand in Doonbeag and Kilkee beach. (This is all scheduled for one day, by the way). A man on a mission, truly.

Paddy plans to keep swimming throughout the festive season, with each dip intended to raise awareness and funds for Gemma’s Legacy of Hope, a local counselling service set up to help children from the age of 5, young adults and adults across the life course in the Rosses, Co. Donegal.

According to Paddy’s Go Fund Me page he’s trained hard all year, has bought a van and kitted it out with all the equipment he needs and is “well able for the challenge”. Oh and side note, his original target was €1,000 – as of now, a whopping €42,460 has been raised for Gemma’s Legacy of Hope.

You can keep an eye on Paddy’s progress and see how he’s being welcomed with open arms in towns and villages across the country with offers of food, swim gear and even hearing aids on his Instagram, and if you’d like to donate you can do so HERE.

Header image via Instagram/duckingdrivingforgemmaslegacy

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