THE hugely impressive sum of over €17,000 was raised for two worthy charities courtesy of the first Galley Head Swim.
The challenging 10km swim around the iconic lighthouse, which saw participants spend anything from just over three hours, to four and a half hours in the water, took place last July 27th.
The proceeds, a total of €17,400, have just recently been presented to Marymount Hospice and West Cork Underwater Search and Water.
Tony Rafferty, one of the organising committee explained how the idea first came up when a group of friends from Clonakilty and Rosscarbery were on a ski holiday in Austria last January.
‘We were discussing the costs associated with running a volunteer organisation. The West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue was the case in point and its chairman, Pat Mulcahy, pointed out that the volunteers had to buy all their own equipment - boats, scuba gear, GPS equipment, underwater communication equipment, even the fuel required to safely searching our sometimes-treacherous waters for the less fortunate victims of the sea. They are all volunteers and they all drop work when there is an emergency callout. Some calls can take weeks of searching but they don’t give up because it is so important to the families of those lost at sea to be able to bury their loved ones,’ said Tony.
‘The conversation later moved on to the bereavements recently suffered within the group – one had recently lost his wife to cancer and the other his sister to cancer. Both had spent time at the end of their lives in Marymount Hospice. They each had received wonderful palliative care in the hands of Marymount’s highly trained professional team. It was noted that this level of care is only possible through the fundraising that supplements the base level government funding. A suggestion was made to create an annual charity event that could give something back to the volunteer organisations within our community. As some of the group also enjoy open water swimming, a decision was made to hold a 10km marathon swim around the iconic Galley Head.’
As well as Tony, the committee comprised: Pat Mulcahy, Justin Crowley and Geoff Wycherley.
Swim trials were carried out before the event to understand the currents as this particular swim had not been done before. The local fishermen will attest that the waters can run fast and rough around the Galley Head, explained Tony.
The swim started at 2pm from Red Strand with 11 solo swimmers, 15 relay swimmers, 23 boats and over 100 people in and on the water.
‘The wind blew up just before the start and it became quite rough out at the head. That didn’t stop the swimmers and having a boat dedicated to each one of them was a great comfort and everyone made it safely around the head towards Long Strand, and took a left turn towards Owenahincha.
‘Next it was to the pier in Ross where swimmers left their dedicated support boats and were shepherded the last stretch of the way to the Warren Beach by Cork Surf Lifesaving’s rescue boarders. Swim times ranged between 3hrs09 to 4hrs30 and every swimmer triumphed and felt very proud exiting the water to great cheers from the supporters,’ said Tony who also completed the swim himself.
Organiser Geoff Wycherley said they were blown away by the amount of money raised and notably how all funds raised by swimmers went to the two very deserving charities.
‘The plan is to grow this unique event year on year,’ he said.