Like all the best plans, it started over pints.
Three years on and three events in, the team behind the annual Galley Head Swim have created one of Cork’s most successful charity fundraisers, raising €113,220 for Marymount Hospice and West Cork Underwater Search & Rescue in 2021.
“What started as an event for the local community using the spectacular natural resources of the West Cork coastline has now drawn swimmers from all over Ireland and the UK,” said Geoff Wycherley, one of the committee members.
The idea for the event came about in a very Irish way back in January 2019, when a couple of friends from Clonakilty and Rosscarbery were having a few drinks together on holidays in Austria.
“We were talking about how the West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue volunteers had to buy their own equipment and felt something needed to be done about it,” said Geoff.
“The conversation later moved on to the bereavements suffered within the group – one had lost his wife to cancer in 2018 and the another’s sister was in Marymount Hospice at the time (she sadly passed away later in April 2019) but the one thing that came across was that both received wonderful palliative care in the hands of Marymount’s highly trained professional team.”
The first event in 2019 raised €17,400. The next year, in 2020, they managed to raise €55,742 and in July the figure was a massive €113,220.
The race starts in Red Strand in Ardfield, goes around the iconic Galley Head with its towering lighthouse before heading back across the long strand, passing in front of Owenahincha and finishing at the blue flag Warren beach at Rosscarbery.
By last year, the spectacular 10K swim challenge had caught the imagination of the swimming public with participant numbers growing from 26 swimmers and fifteen boats in 2019 to 164 swimmers and 63 boats in 2021.
The fourth Galley Head Swim takes place on July 9th, 2022. For more details and to check out footage from last year’s event visit the Facebook page here.