Galwegians braving the cold, so others don’t have to

Galway Daily COPE Galway Christmas Swim
Connacht Rugby coach Andy Friend supporting COPE Galway

Galwegians will brave the cold of Galway Bay, and other waters wherever they are next week to help homelessness services.

The annual COPE Galway Christmas Swim will run from December 20-26, with a special live event on the morning of Christmas Day.

Over the past 32 years, thousands of swimmers in Galway have made it part of their Christmas ritual to wear the COPE Galway t-shirt, bring along their cheerleaders and take a dip in the bracing waters of Galway Bay to raise funds and awareness to support vulnerable individuals and families in our community.

Connacht Rugby Head Coach, Andy Friend has been “jumping in the water” ever since he and his family first witnessed the Christmas morning crowds at Blackrock four years ago.

The fact that the event is at Christmas time, he says, “brings home how, while most of us are meant to be enjoying ourselves, there are others who can’t experience that joy.”

Galway Daily COPE Galway Christmas Swim
Connacht Rugby coach Andy Friend supporting COPE Galway

“It’s great to know that the funds raised here have a direct and positive impact on the lives of people in Galway that may be suffering in a way they shouldn’t be.”

Actor Nora Jane Noone cites a consciousness of the disconnect and hardship many in our community have endured this year as a reason for her to take part in this community fundraising event.

She said that for her, “braving the cold waters of Galway Bay serves as a small reminder of the comforts and the safety many of us enjoy that others don’t have.”

Nora Jane Noone out to support the COPE Christmas Swim

Another participant, Stephanie Campion added, “The sharp cold of the ocean, the sense of community and of course, the sense of achievement afterwards all go towards our mental wellbeing too.”

The COPE Galway Christmas Swim raises essential funds that go directly towards providing for children, young people,  women and men in Galway who need extra support this Christmas and throughout the year.

In 2020, COPE Galway supported 2,616 people across the city and county through their services for homelessness, domestic abuse and services for older people.  

The annual Christmas Swim is keeping last year’s format of allowing people to swim wherever they are, to encourage participation from all comers.

A special live event will also take place on Christmas day from 9am to 1pm, with participants taking the classic dip into the frigid waters of Galway Bay.

For more information on the live event, or to book a timeslot to take part yourself, go to

Lynia O’Brien from COPE, who is organising the event, said “This is such a great community event, whether you are home for the holiday or braving the cold virtually.”

“We love to see the variety of people who register to swim – veteran sea swimmers and dippers, groups and teams of friends, families, schools and colleagues.”

“It’s a special thing to be part of such a long-held Christmas tradition and a great reminder that while the day is about being with family, it’s also about remembering and supporting our community.”