Hundreds of Christmas swimmers flocked to Portmarnock Beach and the Forty Foot this morning

Two of Dublin's best-known beaches were awash in festive costumes and santa hats this morning as hundreds of swimmers plunged into the cold Irish sea on Christmas day.

More than 400 hardy souls charged into the sea on Portmarnock beach for the annual Charity Christmas Day Swim.

Meanwhile, a massive crowd headed for the Forty Foot in Sandycove for a dip - a tradition that dates back 250 years.

The Portmarnock swim took place at 11am sharp, with swimmers as young as six plunging into the freezing cold water alongside mammies, daddies, grannies and grandads, Christmas revellers and thrill-seeking tourists. The annual festive fundraiser in aid of St Francis’s Hospice in Raheny has been on the go since 2002, when it was launched by the Jesson familly in honour of their beloved dad Billy, a popular Portmarnock dad of five who died of a rare brain tumour that same year. Among the swimmers this year were Billy’s daughter Nicola McNamee and her kids James, 11, and nine-year-old Emily, whose dad Robert said this year was the best attended event yet.

Emily, whose little sister Evie, 6, helped out by collecting donations on the packed strand, told Dublin Live: “It was cold but not that cold. My mam did it with us but my dad said he couldn’t this year because he has 'a touch of man flu'.” Robert, who assured us he wouldn’t let his bout of man flu stop him from enjoying the rest of the day, said this was the busiest Christmas swim yet. He added: "Special mention to Karen O'Mara and her family, who have been the driving force behind the charity swim since it began in 2002.

“This year was without doubt the best attended yet - huge sums of money have been raised for the hospice and it’s great to see such generosity from our wonderful community. “Hats off too to all the kids who were out collecting this morning - it’s a fantastic way to start Christmas day.” Catherine McMahon, who swims at Portmarnock beach every day of the year with the a group called the Red Hot Mommas, was also among the crowd.

She added: “It was great craic - and what a turn-out. The atmosphere was brilliant and the weather wasn’t too bad either.” Many thanks to Catherine and to Billy's son-in-law Robert McNamee for sending us these amazing videos and photos from the swim.
Christmas swimming
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