Forty Footer | Cassandra Voices

Forty Footer


Sixteen years ago, I wandered down to the Forty Foot to take some pictures of winter swimmers, one of the first swimmers I encountered was Tim; every week that winter I took pictures, building my collection and getting to know Tim and the other hardy swimmers, of which there was very few.

I was going through some personal issues and had just sobered up, so Tim prompted me to give it – swimming – a go. A few months later I took the plunge, and so began my own swimming journey, a now nearly daily addiction.

I’m now coming up to my sixteen year anniversary, I still bring the camera down and continue my study of swimmers and, more importantly, life down at the Forty Foot.

In summers it comes alive, a real life West Side Story; the winter tranquility overtaken by hordes of teenagers observing the end of school traditions; jumping into the Forty Foot in uniforms; posturing and shaping in ther gangs; drinking and flirting – the passage to adulthood.

I exhibited this work last year in the nearby Sandycove Store and Yard, and hope to produce my book next year, on a decade long study of Forty Foot life.

For many years Tim was absent, and last November he rocked up to Sandycove, dived in and then as he emerged from the water, I captured him. He remarked ‘are you not famous yet ?’

Early this summer I submitted this picture to the Zurich Portrait prize. I was pleasantly surprised to hear as the summer ended that this picture – Forty Footer – had been shortlisted for the Portrait prize and will hang in our National Gallery from December.

So I guess I am famous now, thanks Tim, and hopefully will deliver the book ‘Forty Footers’ next year.

Feature Image (c) Barry Delaney.


About Author

Inspired by the colour, energy and the DIY attitude of punk, Barry Delaney fled the grey Dublin of the early 1980s, to travel the world. Along the way he fell in love with film photography. Twenty years on, after quitting alcohol he began making pictures again, beginning on the streets of Dublin, a place well familiar to him. Since then he has moved on to other parts of Ireland and across the ocean to America. In 2008, Barry won the TG4 Irish photographer of the 21st Century. He has had six solo exhibitions in Dublin, including an historic show in the GPO in 2019, where he also launched his first book Stars and Souls of the Liffey. Last year he launched a book on Modern America, with poet John O'Donnell - Americans Anonymous. He aims to complete the trilogy with a book on the Forty Foot next year.

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