Being Hit by the High Seas at the Frances Thornton Memorial Swim 2016

Frances Thornton Memorial Swim.jpg

Danger is my middle name. Okay, it’s not really, but I’m not really a COW either. But nor is Batman a bat.

Today I’m hitting the high seas of Galway Bay for the eleventh annual Frances Thornton Memorial swim. One-hundred-and-two swimmers are braving the elements to swim 13km across the bay from Clare to Blackrock in Salthill and, with my unique set of special skills, I’ve managed to wrangle my way onto one of the more than seventy boats that have volunteered their assistance.

The boat I hitch a lift on belongs to Galway Bay Boat Tours and is owned and captained by the kindly Kieran Oliver.

Kieran is a very focused and good humoured captain and is assisted in his endeavours by his equally impressive crew mates which include his brother Dave, James, Johnathan, Conor, and Rob.

Also aboard is a lady who I shall refer to as Pamela. That is not her real name but one which fits since she has similar hair to Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson and is also in the business of saving lives.

Lashing out goody bags, co-ordinating operations, and generally making sure everyone is looked after is the function of this boat.

I manage to get some shots of the swimmers including one of race organiser and participant Kevin Thornton.

Kevin Thornton

Rocking this way and that on the choppy waters I struggle to keep my balance and, on using the onboard loo, I learn that peeing on a train is no longer the biggest life challenge I have ever faced.

After a time, Kieran sends me on my way by putting me on the Civil Defence rib where I enjoy a spot of man-talk with some extraordinarily charming chaps who exhibit a tremendous amount of understanding of the social issues which the modern man is faced with.

Civil Defence Boat Crew.jpg

“Are you a photographer?” one of them asks.

“I’m a photographer/blogger,” I say.

“So you’re a phlogger!” he says.

“I suppose,” I laugh.

These delightful chaps drop me at the finish line at Blackrock where there is a terrific crowd waiting for the returning swimmers.

Joanne Murphy is MC’ing and enthusiastically welcoming all the swimmers back.

Joanne Murphy.jpg

In the distance I spot local adventurer Gavan John Paul Hennigan on the Salthill Prom. He is on a rowing machine throughout the day in his bid to help raise funds for Cancer Care West.

After momentary consideration I opt not to hang around the finishing line taking photos as l believe in the adage that life is a journey, not a destination.

And I much prefer photographing the struggles of the journey, since life without them is not life.


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