The Michael Power Memorial Swim takes place at Kilmurrin Cove on Christmas Day and is being held in aid of the 35th Waterford Copper Coast Scout Group.
IT’S CHRISTMAS morning and, for many, the only movement made is to reach for the remote control.
However, for many other hardy souls, the thrill of participating in a Christmas Day swim is a not to be missed annual social event. One of the most established Christmas Day swims is the Michael Power Memorial Swim which takes place in Kilmurrin on the beautiful Copper Coast.Each year, there is fevered excitement as participants gather at the picturesque stony cove and a huge sense of exhilaration as everybody makes their way into the water.
The fresh air and cold water certainly contribute to the development of a hearty appetite so, after braving the elements, participants needn’t feel any guilt for overindulging in extra helpings of turkey and ham!
The origins and development of the Michael Power Memorial Swim are particularly poignant.
In 1982, local man Michael Power and a small number of friends decided to go swimming on Christmas Day.
The following year, the swimming enthusiasts swam more frequently from summertime, throughout autumn and up to Christmas Day.
More people joined their endeavours and the first official Christmas Day Swim at Kilmurrin took place in 1983.
The 13 swimmers who took part on the day were Michael Power, Lennie Bell, Tom Whelan, Mary Mooney, John Walsh, Ger Mooney, Darren Power, Buddy Mooney, Tom Power, Adrian Kirwan, Johnny Murray, Brendan Power and Tony Murphy.Two weeks before Christmas Day, members of the group met a lady involved with the Waterford Asthma Society who suggested they raise some money as part of their endeavour.
And so, they set about making sponsorship cards.
The first swim, which consisted of just 13 swimmers, raised the impressive sum of £600.In 1984, the event was geared up to be bigger and better and much effort had gone into its organisation.However, tragedy struck on December 17th when Michael Power died suddenly aged 40.“We had everything organised so we continued with the swim that year,” explained Michael’s brother Tom who is Chair of the Michael Power Memorial Swim committee.The event has grown to become a beautiful remembrance of Michael’s life and an event which has raised more than €600,000 for various charities and good causes throughout the Waterford area.
“Around seven or eight charities write to us each year and the committee meets and decides on which charity to work with,” said Tom.
“If we have been approached by, say, eight charities, we pick a final three and then we decide. All are doing great work so it’s very hard to pick one,” he added.The beneficiaries are not confined exclusively to charities as money has been raised for various other good causes such as the church and school in Kill as well as Knockmahon and Seafield National Schools and Dunabbey Hospital, Dungarvan.“It’s up to the beneficiaries themselves to also put the effort in to get the word out there and increase the amount which is raised,” said Tom.Each year, in addition to the main beneficiary, €500 is donated to Bonmahon Lifeboats and €200 to the Kill Cardiac First Response Group.
Participants come from all over the surrounding area and further afield with all age groups represented from young children up to those in their eighties.“When you mention the Michael Power Memorial Swim, it is well-known and respected. People know what it’s all about,” said Tom. When the event began to take off in the 1980s, it became apparent that assistance would need to be enlisted.“After the first five or six years, we realised we could no longer manage to supervise it ourselves,” explained Tom. PJ O’Shea of Bonmahon Lifeboats has been helping out ever since along with fellow volunteers.“Each year, they go out and test the water and check for currents and we go wherever they tell us to go,” said Tom.
He also praised the Order of Malta, Portlaw Red Cross, the Irish Coastguard and everyone else who helps out on the day.This year’s swim is in aid of the 35th Waterford Copper Coast Scout Group who are currently fundraising to purchase two acres of land bordering Ballyscanlon Lake where they hope to eventually construct a new scout den.The planning permission allows for the development of a new Scout Den and Community Facility including hall, store, kitchen, office, meeting room, showers, toilets and covered terrace along with an entrance, car park, tank/reed bed and all ancillary site works and associated scouting activities.
The group have been using Annestown House for their meetings for many years thanks to the kind permission of the owner.
They already have planning permission for the new scout den and significant fundraising has already taken place through events such as the Annestown Village Fair, the Pumpkin Parade, and their sales of Christmas trees. Earlier this year, local man Tommy Colfer successfully completed a hike to Everest Basecamp in aid of the 35th Waterford Copper Coast Scout Group and raised an impressive €4,000. “There has been huge community support and a great turnout at all of events which have been held,” explained Group Leader Owen McMahon.
The 35th Waterford Copper Coast Scout Group incorporates a large catchment area which includes Bonmahon, Kill, Dunhill, Fenor, Annestown, Tramore, Ballyduff and Kilmeaden. In total, there are 120 youth members and 25 adult members.