Seven years ago I began documenting this life down by Sandycove, particularly those summer days when the sporadic Irish sun comes out, a signal for Dubliners everywhere to descend on this place to cool down, socialise, get intimate and, above all, have fun.
In winter’s past this small enclave around Sandycove harbour is deserted, bar myself and a few other hardy swimmers and misfits from modern society.
This winter – the year of Covid – things have changed.
The so-called ‘Dryrobes’ crowd have arrived to join our old motley crew this year, as more ‘normal,’ well-heeled Dubliners have come to soak up the magic water, and enjoy, or endure, our icy secret, that used to be the preserve of those of us considered mad by the rest of society. But in the new normal of our world today, what is normal?
The only normal people I know, are the ones I don’t know very well !
The Forty Foot is special to me; three years ago it nearly took my life, when a wild storm hit as I was swimming out by the rock.
But the sea water has helped heal me spiritually, physically and mentally. Every day however cold I swim. Sometimes alone, sometimes with my crew. Nearly always I come out refreshed and feeling alive, even normal.
When the first days of summer arrive, along comes the rest of Dublin to bask by the Irish Sea.
Teenagers come to celebrate the end of school; to have their first drink or maybe first romance – just as I did, decades ago.
The regulars come to top up their all year tans, and take longer swims.
Lovers come to be alone and get intimate; families congregate at the back of the Forty Foot wall, on the small Sandycove beach – the quiet side.
All of this happens around one big rock on the southern tip of Dublin, a place that makes Dublin so special to me, and many others.
These fourteen images from my fourteen year pilgrimage give an insight into this unique Forty Foot life and style, that comes so alive in summer, and even now this winter.