Double dip of a St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day sunrise swim in Greystones

St Patrick’s Day 2022 was simply EPIC!

It started at 6am when I got out of bed for a sunrise swim with my fellow Greystones Seagirls. With a 6.34am sunrise, I wanted to be there a few minutes early to capture the pre-dawn skies.

Pre-dawn skies on St Patrick’s Day 2022

The excitement had been mounting for a few weeks, since finding out that Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan, co-authors of bestseller Taking The Plunge and other wild swimming guides, were coming to Ireland to research their upcoming book on wild swimming in Ireland.

They wanted to meet us Seagirls and they were going to stay in Greystones, no less!

I had interviewed Anna in an Instagram Live in late 2020 (watch it here), and I could barely contain my excitement at the thought of meeting her at last. 

Meet her I did, 2 days before the rest of the Seagirls. As you do on the beach at 6.40 in the morning.

After seeing the most glorious pre-dawn skies and watching the golden sun pop up behind the rocks at the cove, Brian and I were getting ready for our weekly sunrise swim when Anna and Vicky appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, right beside us. This was their first morning in Greystones, and their first dip in Irish waters.

Vicky Allan

Anna Deacon

Back to St. Patrick’s Day…

There were very few people on the beach when I arrived, but it soon filled up with Seagirls, the Happy Pear crew, and of course Anna and Vicky. 

In the glorious glowing light, chats and laughter rang around the Cove as we donned leprechaun hats, shamrock headbands and tricolour plaits, for what would be an unforgettable St. Patrick’s Day – my first Paddy’s Day swim too. 

Camera in hand, I waded into the water with Seagirls Joanne and Christine, Cara and Siobhán close behind. I felt torn between wanting to savour every minute and be really present, and wanting to capture it all.

On hearing our squeals, you’d hardly believe we’re (supposedly) hardy year-round swimmers. Nevermind.

Related / Similaire  Greystones Seagirls' IWD swimrise / Baignaube du 8 mars

Then Hayley asked me for a photo with Anna Deacon. Anna was being photographed by Niall of But she then took photos and videos of us all on her phone. Oh the whoops! Oh the craic!


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A post shared by Anna Deacon (@wildswimmingstories)

St Patrick’s Day Seagirls

I stayed in a tad too long. Walking up the beach, my hands were sore and my feet ached as if they were wrapped in shards of glass. I pulled on my changing robe, about to start getting dressed, when I remembered the sauna.

St Patrick’s Day sauna

Steve at Fadsaoil Saunas had gifted us Seagirls a free session from 7am, because our “community spirit deserves treats and kudos”. 

Shivering uncontrollably in my wet swimsuit under the DryRobe, I made my way up the beach and the ramp to Fadsaoil Saunas. I dumped my bag in the changing area and into the sauna I went. As close as possible to the wood-fired heater without scalding my legs. In the 50ºC heat, it took a good 15 minutes for the shivering to stop. I never broke into a sweat, so cold was I to begin with.

And the sauna was just what I needed – the perfect thawing-out, in excellent company. 

Coming out of the sauna, I met with the rest of the Seagirls at the lovely Rise-at-the-Cove café, for a cup of hot tea and a croissant. The place was hopping with sunrise swimmers. Anna and Vicky had a chat with as many of their adoring fans as possible.

Then it was time to head off to the Devil’s Glen.

The day before, Anna had asked if anyone wanted to escort them there for a waterfall dip and photo shoot. After carefully weighing the pros and cons (there were no cons if I’m honest), I messaged Anna to say I was on board. After all, I do love me a waterfall dip…

Forest walk and river dip in Devil’s Glen

This is how, after getting up before 6am for a Paddy’s Day sunrise swim and a sauna, I found myself at 8.45 walking among the trees of the Devil’s Glen with Anna and Vicky, hoping for a waterfall dip. 

I’d forgotten how pretty a walk the Devil’s Glen is, with its poetic inscriptions and what I now know to be rare pockets of temperate rainforest – mossy, gnarly trees draped with ferns and ivy. 


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A post shared by Anna Deacon (@wildswimmingstories)

After the heavy rain of the past few weeks, the waterfall was too fierce for a dip. Safety first. So we headed back along the river, chatting all the way, until we reached a pretty bend in the river where the trees touch the water.

Paddling in the water. This is the happiest day of my life.

“I don’t care whether this is a good spot for photos, I’m going in!” Vicky announced. Anna swooned at the dappled light through the branches of the trees. 

Leaving my camera on the shore, I waded in behind Vicky, while Anna took photos. The river flowed fast and cold, cool and soft. 

I grabbed my camera when Anna got in. I snapped pictures of both of them and the flowing water.

When a dad turned up with his two kids, all chance of a skinny dip evaporated!

After we’d got dressed again, I took a selfie of the three of us. There was no waterfall dip but we didn’t come back empty-handed.  

Anna and Vicky wouldn’t have found this swim spot without me. I got to hang out with them for over two hours and even got my copy of Taking the Plunge signed by them both.

By 10.30am, I’d had 2 swims, a forest walk and a sauna, and walked over 10,000 steps. This was hands down the best St Patrick’s Day ever! 


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