Brrrrave swimmers take to waters around Wexford
While the beaches were packed out over 2018's fantastic summer months, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was still the summer as three of Wexford's beaches welcomed crowds for Christmas and St Stephen's Day swims.
Hundreds of people across the county take part in such events each year.
The Christmas Day Swim at Rosslare Strand welcomed one of its biggest crowds yet with over 200 brave swimmers taking to the icy water, watched by over 1,000 spectators who were more content to nurse a hot drink!
The swim had been listed in national media as one of the top things to do over the Christmas period and event organiser Ray Flynn said the extra publicity didn't hurt, adding that they even had one family from the US, the Kennan family, who took part but organisers had no idea if they were just passing through or were specifically visiting family or friends in Wexford.
'We had a 25% increase in swimmers on last year. So large was the crowd that we ran out of the 'Christmas cheer' (the hot drinks and soup); they cleaned us out!'
The bucket collection on the afternoon was, as always, for St Mary's Daycare Centre in Tagoat but Mr Flynn said there were plenty of groups there that were fundraising for other charities and he said they would love to hear from those people, to hear how their fundraising went. He did not have a figure yet for the bucket collection but said the crowd gave generously and the collectors were 'well laden down' heading back to Tagoat.
'It's always a great occasion that gives people the chance to meet and wish each other a happy Christmas and New Year,' said Mr Flynn.
Around 250 people attended the annual charity swim at Carne Beach on St Stephen's Day, which was a fundraiser for Our Lady's Island National School.
The swim has been held in Carne for the past ten years, the aim being to raise much needed funds for the school and children of the community. Around 40 swimmers and 200 spectators turned out on the day.
The weather was near perfect for December, with no rain, mild temperatures and a calm sea.
The organisers expressed their thanks to the members of the Carne-Rosslare Coast Guard who gave up their free time to offer assistance for the event.
They added: 'We would also like to give special thanks to all our brave swimmers and supporters, especially to Irene Ellard who has single-handedly raised in the region of €1,000 for us every year for the past ten years!'
Finally, around 150 people, including a large number of students from St Peter's College, turned out for the St Stephen's Day swim in Curracloe, an event which raises approximately €5,000 each year for Wexford Hospice Homecare.
Organiser Cathal O'Gara explained that he and fellow St Peter's College teacher Jim Ryan had been involved in the running of the event for almost 20 years.
'We always convince 50 or 60 of the lads from the school to take sponsor cards and come along for a dip on the day. They bring friends and family so, this year, we ended up with over 150 people in the water and a large crowd of spectators.'
Mr O'Gara estimates that the event has raised about €100,000 for Wexford Hospice Homecare in the last 20 years.
Complimentary teas and coffees were offered after the swim, courtesy of Ricardo and Deirdre Forte, and people were able to stay and mingle to create a real community vibe after the event.
Mr O'Gara did not have a final total of money raised, pointing out that the students would return their sponsor cards when they came back from school holidays later in the month. A bucket collection on the day did raise almost €500, however, so they are hopeful that their final sum will be in the region of other years.