Category Archives: Lovecraft

All I want for Solstice is my sanity

Here we are, bottom of the year, it’s all good from here on in, the short northern latitude days will extend by almost three minutes of daylight from tomorrow. This is the true mid-winter holiday, recognised all over the world and just rebranded for religions, getting the details mixed up as all Marketing inevitably does, like marketing a distance swim as a big event, then wearing a wetsuit on the actual day.

For last year’s solstice greeting I brought you It’s beginning to look like Fishmen, from some of my  favourite  people, the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. I’m putting it in again below, because I love it, based on the Lovecraft story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

This year I’ll add All I want for christmas is my sanity originally from the same folk, here is a pretty good cover version. What has this to do with swimming? Nothing, except this time of the year all of their Solstice Carols are on loop in my house (favourites include Unholy Night,  I’m Dreaming of a Dead City, Silent Night, Blasphemous Night, Away in a Madhouse and my absolute favourite  Es Y’Golonac) and therefore they go through my head and when you read this I should be well into a six-hour swim singing these to myself, in order to try to hang onto my own sanity.

And Fishmen again. As I’ve quoted before, Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Newtown & Guillame swimming website

Some of you may have noticed a new link in the sidebar.

I put together another site for Tramore’s Newtown & Guillamene swimming club some time back. We’re just starting to add content to it. There are plenty of photographs going back up to 80 years to come (probably slowly), along with stories and anecdotes.

Now I talk enough about the location here that many of you who’ve never visited it will be quite familiar with it from my pictures.

Newtown Cove. Click for very large image for detail.

This is the photo I took for the title image on the site, giving you a better view of the location itself. If you enlarge it you’ll be able to have a reasonable look around.

Like Sandycove, it’s one of the great Irish swimming locations. It regularly features in broadcast and print media due to its great tradition.

Visitors and tourists are always welcomed and are often surprised by the vibrancy brought by all generations having proper waterside fun together.

Rock and pier diving and jumping, triathletes, family picnics, scuba diving, kayaking, recreational swimming. I saw a stand up paddle boarder recently, and surfer vainly searching for waves there. There’s a seal that occasionally pops up during the winter, though I haven’t seen it in a year. There’s even a Channel swimmer or two around fairly regularly. :-)

I won’t be writing regularly for it, but will admin the site and work with the club hopefully to keep it updated.

Please visit it either IRL or virtually.



My swimming range in Tramore Bay

After years of swimming T-Bay, I’ve gotten to know it reasonably well. A few years back I drew up a map of the pertinent features, from a swimming point of view. That map is a bit out of date, I’ve made a few discoveries since then, but I just keep it in my head now. Anyway, having swum into and out of, new parts of the bay this year, I did a quick map of my swimming “range” in Google Earth.

It’s pretty extensive. The area within the red lines are the areas I’ve swum in. It doesn’t include areas down the coast that I’ve swum to from the Guillamene. I’ve tried to roughly gauge the area from many swims, though the vast majority are similar swims, between the Metalman and the pier.

The two big additions this year are the spiky area pointing down and the spiky area out to the upper right.

The area across the bay to Brownstown is from a few over and back solo swims and plenty to about half way, and a couple of one ways back from Brownstown.

The spike out the upper right was an attempt to do Mo Snámh Mór Fada (over to Brownstown Head and back, unaccompanied)  a few weeks back that didn’t go well. There was an onshore Force Two again. I’d never done an over and back in those conditions but wanted to try it, since I’ve done a couple of half way and back swims this year.

After about 50 minutes of swimming to Brownstown Head, but feeling I was not going as well as usual, I checked my triangulation off Brownstown, Newtown, the Metalman and the pier and I discovered I’d been pushed further into the bay, maybe one to one and a half kilometres off course, something that wasn’t obvious when I was only sighting forward. I’d been driven to the far inside of the bay and the beach. To make it to Brownstown would therefore have been too long. The return to the Guillamene was tough as I was then heading more back into the wind and waves. It took almost two hours in total, not hugely far off my best over and back time, but I estimate it could have taken at least anther hour, though I think in fact it would have taken another hour and a half. I very rarely abort a swim. it was interesting, I learned more from it.

The spike to the bottom right was 4 to 6 weeks ago when I felt the need to get away from land altogether. It was a southerly onshore Force 2 wind on the way out, and was interesting. I’ve been out there once again since then.

Otherwise the only things of interest are that I regularly swim quite far out from the side of the bay when swimming in and out of the pier to Metalman.

A great photo Dee took yesterday. At full size, you can see four current trails from each leg and arm. It was rougher when I was returning.

Donal swimming past Newtown leaving current trails

Tall Ships 2011. Leaving Dunmore East

If you’re in Ireland, you’ll probably have been bombarded by the coverage of the 2011 Tall Ships Race, which was starting from Waterford, the second time it’s started from the port.

Last time in 2006 I visited the berthed ships, but this time Clare gave me the chance to go out with her on Orca. I met her in Dunmore East yesterday morning, which was glorious.

Dunmore East, yachts and the estuary in the morning

Thinking I’d be early at 9am instead it seemed like half the country had thought the same. And my attempt to outwit the traffic by taking the coast road was a waste of time. Once parked I had to walk about 20 minutes to the fishing pier to meet Clare on the dinghy. Not a long walk … unless you are wearing deck shoes. Bleeding heels by the time I arrived.

Dunmore was very busy. Roads had been closed since 7am and access to much of the low cliffs between Counsellor’s (the strand) and the harbour had been closed.

Blue sky and warm, it was one of those brief Irish summer periods, when the whole country takes advantage of some sunshine. There were tens of thousands in town, with thousands in the park and on the road looking down.

Crowds in Dunmore

There were a few helicopters around, including the Coast Guard. Since I was late arriving, it wasn’t long after we got out on Orca and came off the mooring that the first ship arrived out from the estuary, the largest ship in the fleet, the Russian sail training vessel Mir.

Mir passing Dunmore

Mir was followed by Gloria while the CG Helicopter flew overhead.

Mir & CG Heli passing LE Aoife

Gloria passed the Irish Navy’s L.E. Aoife and the crew lined up on the bow for the three gun salute that each of the first few ships received. With almost no wind, Clare iron-sailed out with the fleet. Tall ships, traditional fishing vessels, large yachts, old sail trawlers, pleasure crafts, modern yachts, ribs, pleasure cruisers and kayaks. (And a couple of those jet skis that practically every other marine person hates).

Europa with backed sails


Of the tall ships only Europa had sails raised, but with a very slight Force One onshore they were backed so she was sailing under power against the wind.




Orca from the bow


The line for the race start was actually five miles offshore and quite long. Clare has some problems with barnacles in the engine intake of Orca, so we had to stop twice to sort it out.




At that stage it realised we weren’t go to got the full way out the start line. And with almost no wind the start itself was delayed anyway.



By now we were about three or four miles out from Dunmore, past Hook Head and the lighthouse. The Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world.

The Hook Light

We were well east of Tramore Bay. About six miles from the Metalman and three from Brownstown Head which were quite hazy.

Brownstown Head from the east

By now the revised start time had been announced, 3.30 pm. Because of the poor wind and forecast, the fleet hove around to sail up the east coast instead.

Orca heading out of Dunmore

We were well on our back by this stage, and indeed most of the inshore fleet had already returned.

Clare dropped me off on the pier so she could sail back to Dungarvan.

Dunmore strand

Dunmore still had lots of people enjoying the remainder afternoon and the weather. It’s Ireland. It might rain for weeks from tomorrow. The VW camper van cost me a lot to arrange to be there just at that time for the photo.

From above, the estuary looked great in the sunshine.

I’m always happy to sacrifice a day’s swimming for a day’s sailing. But this day was the best of both, as I still had time to get across to the Guillamene for my first warm swim of the year there, as the water in the cove had warmed up in the low tide and sun to 13.5 °C. Outside it was about 13 °C. Even the previous day it had only been 12 °C.

I swam around the headland again, and into the entrance of another of the sea caves, the largest one, first time I’ve been into that one for some time. A couple of guys on an outcrop on the cliffs about three-quarters of the way out seemed astonished to see someone swim past because I could see them silhouetted against the sky as I went around Seal Rock, still watching me. (Seal Rock is what I call the rock outside and below the Metalman because of the shape of two rocks on the top of it. I’ve no idea what it’s actually called, but this is Ireland so every rock has a name. (Pictures if ever I can afford a waterproof camera.)

I picked up my first proper sting of the year, right across the nose, (which to be honest I’d forgotten about until I wrote this).

A good day messing about on and in the water.