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Henry O’Donnell On Last Leg of Solo Fin Swim Around Ireland

18th February 2022
Henry O'Donnell - on last leg of his solo finswim circumnavigation of Ireland Credit: Rory O'Donnell

Donegal-born former Army Ranger, lifeguard, diver and swim instructor Henry O'Donnell broke his neck during the bicycle section of a triathlon 30 years ago, but hasn't looked back since his recovery.

Anrí Ó Dómhnaill, a father and grandfather, has trekked and climbed to some of the highest and lowest points on four of the globe's continents and led the first successful relay swim around Ireland in 2006.

Former Army Ranger Henry O'DonnellFormer Army Ranger Henry O'Donnell has previously completed a relay swim round Ireland Photo: Rory O'Donnell

O'Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht - where he first learned to swim - with the aim of completing the first solo fin swim around Ireland in aid of two charities, Water Safety Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society.

O’Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht from where he was born and raised Photo: Rory O'DonnellO'Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht from where he was born and raised Photo: Rory O'Donnell

He had to take a pause last year due to Covid, but he and his team are back in the water and on the last long leg up the west coast. By early February 2022, he had raised over €45,000 for the two charities.

O'Donnell has progressed round Ireland in clockwise direction due to the prevailing south-westerly winds Photo: Rory O'DonnellO'Donnell has progressed round Ireland in a clockwise direction due to the prevailing south-westerly winds Photo: Rory O'Donnell

O'Donnell spoke to Wavelengths in Galway about the planning and logistics, reliance on team and community support, the marine life he has encountered, jellyfish stings, and how he copes with the low days.

The webpage link on his project, showing the tracker with his current location, and with details on how to donate is here

The solo fin swimmer faced very strong tides in the Northern Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland Photo: Rory O'DonnellThe solo fin swimmer faced very strong tides in the Northern Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland Photo: Rory O'Donnell

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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