Swimmers brave the freezing Irish Sea on New Year’s Day
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Swimmers brave the freezing Irish Sea on New Year’s Day

MEN, WOMEN and children across Ireland celebrated the start of 2019 in brisk style with a dip in the ice-cold waters of the Irish sea.

Hundreds descended on the likes Carnlough Harbour in County Antrim and Crawfordsburn Beach in County Down as part of a selection of special fundraising activities.

Swimmers of all ages also braved the icy cold waters over at Sandycove Harbour in Dublin, with ex-international rugby star Shane Byrne to help raise money for the Irish mental health charity Cycle Against Suicide.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 revellers turned out for a charity swim on the western Irish island of Achill as part of a day of bracing beach action, while Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin took a chilly dip over at Broadstrand, Courtmacsherry in West Cork to raise money for the local RNLI lifeboat service.

Hundreds also turned out in Bray, County Wicklow, as part of the day’s events with swims taking place across the country.

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They all came dressed for the occasion, with everything from Santa hats to hula skirts present and correct as people prepared to take the plunge.

With the Irish Sea averaging temperatures of around 9.6°c in January, those who opted for an icy dip deserve plenty of plaudits.

It was all done with important causes in mind.

Those heading for a swim in Crawfordsburn were raising money for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s Family Support Service, while a number of other charities also benefitted from the near-heroic swimming efforts.

Those swimming over in Enniscrone in County Sligo, for example, were raising money for Spinal Injuries Ireland, North West Hospice and Meals on Wheels.

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There were medals and certificates for those who braved the elements in the name of charity – and rightly so.

The perfect way to raise money and awareness of some important causes, a dip in the Irish Sea may have also served as the perfect remedy for any New Year’s celebration hangovers.