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Left to right, Diarmuid McMahon, Emer Irwin, Pat Irwin and Peter Cunninham arriving at Blackrock Tower, Salthill, having swum across Galway Bay from Clare.

Ennis estate agent takes plunge for Cancer Care West

A WELL known Ennis estate agent has made his own move to raise much needed funds for charity.
Last Saturday Diarmuid McMahon, of Sherry Fitzgerald McMahon, took the plunge and swam from Clare to Galway, across Galway Bay, in aid of Cancer Care West.
The former chair of Ennis Chamber has raised almost €2,500 for the charity, with funds still being donated.
Speaking to the Champion, Diarmuid described the response to the fundraiser as “phenomenal” and he has expressed his appreciation to everybody who has shown support.
His solo togs swim was part of this year’s virtual Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim which over the years has raised more than €900,000 for Cancer Care West.
The funds raised are used to help meet the costs of residential and cancer support services, which are provided free of charge to cancer patients and their families.
This is the 16th year of the annual swim, which would normally see 150 people cross the bay in July, however due to Covid-19 people have been asked to get involved by doing their own virtual swims.
Diarmuid, a member of the Atlantic Masters swimming club, has previously taken on the swim as part of a relay team, however this time he took on the challenge as a solo swimmer.
Also doing their own swims on the day for the charity were Peter Cunningham, Emer Irwin and her husband Pat Irwin with kayak and boat support for the swimmers.
“It went very well, we were very, very lucky with the weather, we had an absolutely beautiful day,” Diarmuid tells us.
They left from Auginish in Clare at 8am, swimming across the bay to Blackrock Diving Tower, Salthill in Galway.
“It was about four and a half hours swimming, and we did just shy of 11km. The distance can differ depending on what line you get, it can be up to 12 to 13 km across if the weather is bad. But the weather was so good so we were able to keep a pretty straight line.
“Three years ago I did it as part of a relay in a wetsuit, but doing it in togs and as a solo is a very, very different undertaking.
“Obviously it’s a longer distance and the wetsuits give you a nice bit of buoyancy compared to togs.”
While the good weather meant that water temperature wasn’t an issue for the swimmers, there were other issues to contend with.
“Fortunately we didn’t meet any Lion’s Mane jellyfish, we were quite concerned about that because we heard there were quite a few around in the last week or so. But we managed to stay clear of that.
“There were plenty of Moon jellyfish, but we wouldn’t be too worried about them.”
Diarmuid said he was delighted to be able to help support the charity which was named in memory of Frances Thornton who passed away in 2008.
“The Frances Thornton memorial swim was set up to raise money for Cancer Care West who provide family support cancer care services to families all along the west coast from Clare up to Donegal.
“Covid has been difficult for them, the swim is usually a day event where a lot of people would take it on. However because of Covid people were asked to take on the challenge in their own time.
“The Thornton family would be very active in the swimming community, and the swim began in 2006 when friends Kevin Thornton and Ronan Collins decided to swim Galway Bay.
Frances, Kevin’s mother, suggested that it could be an opportunity to raise some money for a charity close to her heart. Sadly she passed away from cancer in 2008 and the family kept the swim going every year since, re-naming it after her.
Diarmuid set up an online fundraiser which has already exceeded his initial target.
“I’ve had a phenomenal response on the Idonate page, I’ve raised about €2,500 so we are very happy with that and other swimmers will be raising money for them as well. I’m just delighted to be able to do this for the charity.”
He also paid tribute to those behind the boat and kayak support the swimmers received on the day.
“I really just want to thank all of those people who helped to make this happen, a lot of organisation goes into achieving something like this and it is really appreciated.”
Diarmuid’s online fundraiser is still accepting donations for the charity on www.idonate.ie/DiarmuidMcMahon686.

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