Words Maureen McCoy, Photos Paul McCambridge
What better way to celebrate a Halloween birthday than here on the Velvet Strand; dress up, go down to the beach together with a whole crowd of your swim friends, who bring a positive smorgasbord of nibbles, cakes sweets and Prosecco and dash into the crashing waves with the whole crew!
Dublin Dippers certainly know how to do swimming birthdays in style, Halloween style! With a Swim Ninja, a couple of Corpse Brides, a Clowder of Cats, a Skeleton with glorious pink locks, Wonder Woman, several glamorous Witchy Ladies and the Poolbeg Chimneys all hitting the beach at 10am to wish Caoimhe a wonderful birthday.
The Velvet Strand is lovely any day of the week, well named with fine soft sand and stretching approximately three miles long from the striking Martello Tower which looks out to Lambay Island at the north end of the beach and views to Irelands Eye and Howth at the south end. On this sunny October day, it was bustling with walkers, swimmers and surfers.
The Dippers party atmosphere was well and truly going with music playing and the Corpse Bride, Skeleton and a disfigured Cheerleader Monster Mashing and Time Warping before their swim.
Telling me about how she found her swimming passion, Breda said; “I love my swimming I get so much from it and, although my sons are both in Australia, each time I go in I feel connected to them, through the sea”
The great commonality within the Dippers is they are there to enjoy themselves, swimming, hiking, joking, dancing, doing yoga sometimes and helping each other through challenging times.
“Isn’t it great to be able to come down to the beach and know that there’ll be someone there you’ll talk to? Even if you’ve only just met them, you have something in common”
I love the way what might have been just any Sunday swim was elevated to a party event and the squeals as the Dippers ran into the water continued on as each waved crashed against them were contagious.
Thank you Jo et al for letting us join you – and hope to see you again very soon.
The Velvet Strand is popular with families, swimmers, surfers and when the wind is right, kite surfers. Northwards along the coast road towards Malahide two more traditional swimming spots lie;
High Rock, here a long ladder gives access to the water, this jumping/diving spot has been a favourite of distance swimmers for years. Strong currents, the likelihood of waves and the steep ladder to climb mean this spot is for competent, strong sea swimmers.
Low Rock, closer to the mouth of the Estuary is a natural cove sheltered by rock walls either side. The gently shelving sands here and the rock protection make this a great spot for family paddling.
Warning; The Estuary itself is a dangerous place to swim with strong currents, but is a very pleasant start of the coastal walk to the Velvet Strand and affords views across the estuary to Corballis Bay and Donabate Beach.