St. Colmcilles GAA Club, Pairc Ui Rís, Piltown, Bettystown, Co Meath 0877441731

As Christmas approached last year a small organising committee led by Oisin Gartlan made the decision to plan a Christmas swim on Bettystown Beach. With the Irish Sea on our doorstep, a hurt within the club for families affected by suicide and the opportunity to dunk a friend or foe in freezing water the plan became a reality on St Stephen’s Day. 

SOSAD Drogheda were chosen as the ideal charity to raise funds for on this occasion, a choice which was obviosuly appreciated by many. SOSAD which stands for ‘Save our Sons and Daughters’ is a voluntary organisation set up to raise awareness of suicide in Ireland, to break the stigma of suicide but most importantly to provide support and direction to those suffering from depression or feeling suicidal. There are over 60 voluntary counsellors attached to the Drogheda branch alone not even including the voluntary administration staff who give so much of their time to assist others.

Hoping to have 20-30 brave souls to run into the sea, preparations were made to have hot whiskey and some mulled wine ready for the more discerning club members. It became evident as we approached the day itself that we might have more people turning up so the whiskey order was upped and Oisin dipped into his own collection of fine quality bourbon without hesitation. On St Stephens morning we were lucky enough to be greeted by one of the finest winter days we’ve ever seen. Clear blue skies and sunshine are not conditions usually synonymous with Christmas time but this was what we had to work with and we were delighted to do so. As cars started to drive onto the beach we realised we might not have brought enough refreshments for everyone but as with every event associated with this dear club people dug deep and made it work. After planning for 30 participants and seeing over 150 people arrive the craic just got better and better. People already buoyed by the festivities and feel good factor that Christmas brings really got into the spirit of this event and as such it was unforgettable. We must send a special thanks to Stephen and Alison Martin who helped us out on the morning with those big flasks and a more than familiar hand behind the ‘bar’. They also eased Oisin’s fears of a dry Christmas by adding to the whiskey supplies. Ronan Murphy and family brought the hot chocolate and Helena Gordon had the wisdom, generosity and affection to bring an entire pot of vegetable soup. Anyone that scoffed at the idea of soup pre swim soon changed their minds and it was lapped up.

In 45 minutes of brilliance we managed to raise €1,120 for SOSAD which was handed over to them after the Christmas period. You can imagine our delight when hoping to raise a few hundred euro and instead raising over one thousand. Most importantly it was very noticeable that this event was attended by younger members of the club (including Pat Haigney). Apart from the money raised this event was successful because our sons and daughters turned up and supported it.

Tonight our club chairman Keith Loughman along with Oisin Gartlan, John Collier, Jay Collier (John’s brother) and Cianan presented Carmel from SOSAD with a cheque for €1,120 which will go towards the running of this now crucial facility in Drogheda. A link to the SOSAD Website can be found below. We would like to thank each and every one of you that turned up on the day and offered your support. We hear the words ‘worthy cause’ so often these days but anyone associated with this brilliant club will appreciate that this is indeed worthy of our time and effort.


Below is a short piece penned by our very own Tara McHugh last year, seems apt to finish this post with her words;

“Be kind to yourself always.

Speak to yourself how you speak to your best friend.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Comparison is the thief of joy.

When we compare ourselves with others, we are comparing their outsides (what they choose to let us see) with our insides (where we stash our mistakes, insecurities and fears).

So next time, when you’re tempted to give yourself a hard time because ‘Everyone else….’ DON’T!!

We’re struggling too.

Instead, think of someone who might be having a rough time and reach out to that person. SHARE. Tell them you understand.

We’re all different but exactly the same

BE the change you want to SEE”

Cilles Abú

#yourmentalhealth #sosad #sosaddrogheda


We will leave you with this image of Pat Haigney parting the waves for the masses, see you next year!!!!