Hundreds of swimmers and thousands of supporters thronged the steps of Blackrock in Salthill to support the 30th annual COPE Galway Christmas Day Swim.
The event helps raise funds for COPE Galway’s Services for people experiencing Homelessness, Domestic Abuse and services for Older People in Galway.
The cold December morning did not deter over 900 swimmers from taking part, as they were spurred on by an estimated 6,000 people who arrived throughout the morning.
The Christmas Day Swim has become an annual family tradition for those living in and returning to Galway for Christmas. Father and young daughter, Denis and Isabelle Maguire dipped together for their 5th year in a row and the Timon family came out in force for their 10th year “because we want to support COPE Galway and it’s become our tradition,” they said.
This is a particularly special year, as the local organisation celebrates 30 years since a small group of staff braved the cold together on Christmas morning back in 1989. Sharon Fitzpatrick, COPE Galway Head of Development, explains, “Within a short few years these staff were joined by tens, then hundreds and now, 30 years on, thousands of Galwegians of all swimming abilities from home and abroad to brave the cold Galway Bay waters to raise funds for our services.”
There was high praise for the local essential services that make the swim possible also. Ms Fitzpatrick continued, “One Garda told me it’s the busiest he has ever seen it and they have been managing traffic all morning. We couldn’t hold an event like this without the assistance of all the fantastic services here today, from the Galway Lifeboat Service and Civil Defence to the Lifeguards and Gardaí – or the help of the hordes of volunteers who signed up for the morning, all of whom have gone the extra mile to help make this a safe and enjoyable event today. We are always so very grateful for all their help.”
This Christmas, COPE Galway provided 390 traditional Christmas lunches, with all the trimmings, to the 14 lunch clubs for older people in Galway city & county and continued to provide meals throughout the Christmas period to over 150 Meals on Wheels customers. They also delivered over 320 hampers to families with the FEAD programme; 80 gifts to older people in the community and over 1000 children and adults in their services received a gift from the Galway Giving Tree initiative.
“We have seen more people than ever before in need of support this Christmas,” Sharon Fitzpatrick concluded. “Salthill is a special place to be on Christmas morning and a great reminder for ourselves, and our children too, that while the day is about being with family, it’s also about remembering and supporting our community. We would like to thank everyone in Galway that has supported our work throughout the year, which has enabled us to continue to deliver our services to those who need it most”.
Funds from the swim will go directly towards keeping these vital services operating. If you wish to contribute, please visit www.copegalway.ie/donate to make a donation.