CABHAIR does it again for our Republican POW's : 25th December 2009 , Dublin.
Santa raises the National Flag over some of the CABHAIR swimmers!
Where to begin about this 4-hour CABHAIR Christmas Day marathon ? At 10AM , of course - because that was when the CABHAIR Christmas Crew arrived on site , having driven through freezing fog , on icy but otherwise deserted roads , in Minus 2-degree temperature. The various cars parked as best they could in the immediate vicinity and the work began : the fire material was laid in place , the two tables for the 'goodies' were set-up and the food and drink etc displayed on them , the National Flag and two banners were secured in place , the music system was assembled and tested - then the fire was lit and the CABHAIR Crew opened a can or two of 'soup' and had a brief rest , before the madness properly began....
....and it began at 10.50AM , when two Special Branch cars 'parked' at the entrances to the Swim site , blocking off both access points , as they always have done. They stayed where they were , making no attempt to venture up the twenty metres or so to where the CABHAIR Crew were having a 'private party' , with the fire blazing , the music blaring , and the freezing fog beginning to lift. Then the crowds started to appear - they came down from the opposite end of the Canal whilst others practically formed queues at both Naas Road access points , where the political police were doing their 'best' to harass them and turn them back home. But to absolutely no avail - the Mammies and Daddies , kids and teenagers, just kept coming in their dozens , the cars and trucks driving past on the near-by Naas Road sounded their car-horns loudly and repeatedly , the Rebel songs were pouring out at high decibels from the sound system and , in the sky above us , a weak watery sun was trying its best to shine on us !
CABHAIR had ten swimmers this year , all of whom took to the freezing water between the hours of 12 Noon and 1.30PM , some more than once or twice - all were watched eagerly by a core of at least 100 on-lookers , with about half that amount again coming and going over the duration of the 4-hour event. The swimmers are Joe Snr and Jnr , 'Rubber' , Stephen , Ciaran , Anto , Garry , Dougie , Jimmy and David - all of whom enjoyed a cup of warm 'soup' after they were finished swimming , and we all of us enjoyed a wee sup of that heart-warming brew , and mince pies , crisps , beer , ale , stout, lemonade and loads of chewy sweets 'and stuff' (!) , all courtesy of CABHAIR and local suppliers. Towards the end of all this good-natured freezing-cold noisy madness and mayhem , a raffle was held, for which only the ten swimmers had tickets : the prizes , all of which were made in Portlaoise Prison in recent weeks , consisted of three items - a bodhron and two etched and framed mirrors . And, as expected (!) - we had three winners , who were thrilled to receive their prizes.
This, the 33rd consecutive such event, was one of the busiest , noisest and hectic CABHAIR Swims in recent years , and left the organisers exhausted by the time it had finally ended , at about 2PM - but in a 'good' way ! There were really only three 'downers' about the Swim :one of the swimmers cut his knee , not seriously , and was 'bandaged'-up on site , not a bother on him ! The other two 'downers' concern the presence of the political police - that they should be there at all is a waste of tax-payers money , plus the manner in which they ambushed Santa : they took the four-inch brass bell from him , broke the 'chimer' in the centre of it , and gave it back to him , threatening him with arrest the next time they see him at the Swim site. He rightly replied with a 'Greeting' , which we won't repeat here....
Finally - Swim Pics ! We have posted a load of pics over on our 'Sister' site , here, and this link will take you to some pics that Paula took , and Oxana took these pics at the Swim site. As you'll see for yourself , we had one 'back-flipper' - and nine 'belly-floppers' ...;-)
And that's it for this year regarding the CABHAIR Christmas Swim : a hugely enjoyable , busy , hectic craic- filled four hours , for which CABHAIR themselves are to be applauded , as are the ten swimmers and the approximate 150-200 people that joined-in and/or observed proceedings. And , of course - most important of all - our Republican prisoners , who are in our hearts throughout the year , every year , but more so over the Christmas period.
Thanks for reading!
Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh!