Annual Channel Party

For most of the years since 2005, the local marathon community gathers in the autumn to celebrate the recent successes and engage in conversations which are just not possible in the 9C water around Sandycove Island or while swimming 100 times 100 meters in the Source pool.

It is the first opportunity that most of the new soloers have to be “welcomed to the club” with a round of applause from 15 or more soloers who truly appreciate the magnitude of their accomplishment.  Our local party has benefited greatly by stealing many of the ideas from the annual parties held by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF) in Dover and by the JLDSA in Jersey – we thank them!

The party (in a small way) follows on from the “Garden Party at Áras an Uachtaráin with President Mary McAleese” held on 14th July 2003 to honour the pioneering English Channel soloers.

Since 2010, the “Hardship Award” announcement takes place at the Channel party.  This goes annually to the local swimmer who suffers (below the level of a hospital stay) the most in achieving a memorable swim. The winners are listed below.

  • 2015: Eilis Burns – Formigues Illes to Medea Spain (22.3 km, wetsuit). In relentless conditions, current against her, she never gave up but battled away to win. Very few, and none of the English Channel solers from Ireland, completed the swim.
  • 2014: Nora Irwin – 12.5 miles around Key West in unbelievably hot sun, air and water conditions. Nothing in the Cork training prepares anyone for 7 hours and 20 minutes of that suffering. It was likened to being a roast kept too long in the oven. How tough were the conditions? None of the Cork swimmers partied that night following the swim…
  • 2013: Ned Denison (some of the younger swimmers stole a few medals off him causing indescribable pain and anguish)
  • 2012: Robert Bohane (completed the English Channel solo swim – shattering the local “senior record” (i.e. not Owen O’Keefe) – after two tough previous attempts).
  • 2011: Liam Maher (Sandycove Island Challenge) – landed three times hard on corner 2 – and scraped along (belly, back and feet) and Finbarr Hedderman then landed a big elbow on his head after that > 45 minutes in ambulance…loss of blood…25 plasters…and no sympathy from his mates.
  • 2010: Donal Buckley (twice run over by his English Channel boat > bow to stern).

Donal wearing the Hardship Hat

In 2012, the plan is to move the Channel Party out of the limited space in Ned and Anne’s home and to be part of the ILDSA AGM/Dinner in the Grand Hotel Fermoy on 17th November.  This will hopefully allow all interested to attend.

 The Channel Party previous invitation list included:

  • All the Cork soloers (plus of course the adopted Donal Buckley “the lone swimmer” from Tipp)
  • All successful soloers from Ireland (plus crews) and relayers from Munster in the year
  • Other local marathoners (example Strait of Gibraltar)
  • Coach Eilis Burns
  • Some local swim organisers
  • Some local boat crews
  • The Sandycove founders and the chairs of the Lee Swim, Sandycove Island Swim Club and Sandycove Island Challenge committees
  • A few local swimmers denied by poor weather in the channel or who have “aspired” for a while
  • Swimmers’ partners who held together the homes to make all this possible
  • Special guests from afar – including:


  • Martin Cullen (Public Relations Officer of the ILDSA), double relayer (+) , crewed for many soloers, responsible for turning Cork on to marathon swimming in 2004 and for organising the channel relays and marathon swim in Bofin, Cleggan and Sheelin to beat us into shape.
  • David and Evelyn Frantzeskou – who hosted most of the party attendees at Varne Ridge near Dover


  • Nick Adams (President of the CS&PF and seven time soler – including a double) and his partner also a soloer Sakura Hingley
  • Anne Marie Ward (English and North Channel soloer)
  • Stephen Redmond (hey he was invited anyways – but his North Channel solo made him a “more” special guest in 2010!)
  • Billy Mulcahy (12 year old who signed up for a solo for his 16th year!)


  • Colm O’Neill (English and North Channel soloer) and mentor in 2004-6 to several local marathoners


  • David and Beth Yudovin (David is an inductee into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and they both crewed for one of the local swimmers on a California solo)
  • Dave White and his partner and crew Joan (they had successfully piloted almost all of the local soloers and Dave future induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame had just been announced)
  • David and Evelyn Frantzeskou – who hosted most of the party attendees at Varne Ridge near Dover

2011 – Marathon swimmers honoured at the Channel Party:

  • English Channel Solers:  Sorcha Barry, Ger Carty, George Meehan, Susanna Murphy and Fergal Somerville
  • Munster relayers:   Fionnula Walsh and Kevin Williams
  • Around Manhattan: Eddie Irwin and Gabor Molnar
  • Gibraltar: Steven Black, Imelda Lynch, Ossi Schmidt
  • Gibraltar and Around Fastnet: Stephen Redmond
  • NY Little Red Lighthouse Swim: Carol Cashell
  • Around Sherkin: Owen O’Keefe