Brave Wexford women take a dip in aid of the Hope Centre
'Girl power at its best' is how organisers of this year's Dip in the Nip described the recent event which saw 248 women bare all and make a splash at Rosslare Strand.
The event was the biggest of its kind ever to be organised in Ireland, beating the previous record by 48 people. Along with serving as an empowering social event for women, the dip aimed to raise money for The Hope Centre and at time of writing, over €13,000 had been raised.
'It was a very emotional event for a lot of people. There was plenty of tears and plenty of laughter,' explained organiser of the event Eileen Rowe. 'It really was girl power at its best. Some women told their stories and those who didn't got inspiration from others.'
Crowds of women sporting their finest dressing gowns gathered on Rosslare Strand in the cool morning air before the dip. Emotions were high for all, particularly for the many cancer survivors who came along to brave the swim.
Now in its second year, the Wexford dip attracted double the participants compared to this time last year. Many people took the icy dip in memory of those who they have lost to cancer. Meanwhile, other swimmers saw the event as an opportunity to celebrate an occasion, such as a hen party, a 50th birthday and a 30th birthday. Dawn Foley from Mayglass took the plunge in a veil and garter just two weeks before she is due to walk down the aisle with fiancé Conor Casey.
'My sister Christine suggested that we did it as one last thing before I got married,' said the Mulrankin native. 'I would recommend it to everyone. You don't realise what other women have gone through until you see them coming together and showing support for each other.'
The experience proved to be life-changing for Dawn, who said that it has made her look at her body in a different way.
'It's not that you are looking at each other but when everyone was running into the water you get that sense that every woman is beautiful in their own body,' she said. 'Beforehand, I would have been very self-conscious about my body and scrutinised myself in the mirror but now I am enjoying who I am as a woman.'
After the dip, which Eileen said 'sent screeches up through the village', all of the participants gathered in Rosslare Community Centre to pop open some prosecco and enjoy a well deserved feed.
In the coming weeks, the final figure will be officially announced and Eileen expects it to exceed €15,000.
'We have about €13,000 so far and I know so many people still need to hand in their sponsorship cards in the coming days,' she said.