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Christmas Day Swim 2013.

The annual Christmas Day Swim at Emy Lake took place as usual and the crowds came out - some to participate in the swim and others to enjoy the social aspect of the event. Back 41 years ago a few local lads began a tradition of having a swim in Emy on Christmas Day for the fun and the challenge. The Murphy family from Pullis were central to the swim but others joined them. Then the Late Bennie McKenna, then Scout Master of the Donagh Troupe decided to plan a more organised event and use it to raise funds for the Scouts. The sponsored swim had begun and it has continued every year since then despite the weather. The proceeds were always shared with another charity which changed from year to year. After Bennie’s death and the end of the local Scout Troupe the local Garda Sergeant, Dan Rogan, took over the running of the event and the money then went to the Families and Friends of the Intellectually disabled. The public were always very generous and the brave people who faced the cold waters of Emy every year, even with snow and ice in abundance, provided the opportunity for that generosity. In recent years the event has become a very popular meeting place for hundreds on Christmas Morning. There is a great social aspect to it as people meet neighbours and exchange seasonal greetings, where people have a chat with others who have come home for the holiday, and where the young tell of their acquisitions from Santa. Many have great supporters of the event and not just those involved with the organisers but them too. Paddy Murphy, one of the first swimmers; the Devlin family, continuing a tradition begun by the late Mossy; the McGonnells, the Hughes, the various O’Brien families, McElroys, Molloys, Treanors from Drumbriston, the Colls; the Bowes and others have been there year after year. Murphy Video Services must have a great archive of former swims; and the Leslie family have been great supporters both by taking part and in supplying the very welcome hot soup at the shore. The have also sold the idea to many of the their guests who have then accompanied them to the Swim including the beautiful Orla Brady, who starred as Tasha Lem in Christmas Day’s edition of Dr. Who on BBC TV. Another star this year was Tommy Bowe, who joined his family of Paul Hannah and David, in the swim and mixed with the crowds prior to and after the swim. Mum, Ann, looked after the family belongings while the swim  was on and had the towels ready for the cold bodies when they emerged. Mark Leslie and John McConnell both swam to the Island and back - a feat not recommended for the weak swimmer. The late Pat Owen McMahon always supplied the Safety Boat and that has been carried on by Victor Watterson, assisted by Joe McKenna. The Civil Defence are always on hand in case of any emergency and their presence is always appreciated.

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