Gola Island swim for cancer flights

OPEN sea swimmers will take to the waters off Gola Island on Thursday, August 11 to swim to Carrickfin weather permitting, or Gweedore which is a shorter crossing.

Charlie (The Yank) Boyle is organising the event which has two main aims. Firstly to raise awareness of the benefits of open sea swimming for physical and emotional health and secondly to raise awareness and funds for the outstanding charity that is North West Cancer Flights.

Speaking to the Donegal News this week Charlie explained that some of the swimmers taking part had not been open sea swimming for around 40 years until last November.


“There is between eight and ten in our group at the moment but anyone who is confident they can swim a minimum of 500 metres, three or four times, is welcome to take part. We don’t want anyone putting themselves at risk.

“While we were swimming we started joking about having a go at Gola and it grew from there. It is not actually about the swimming itself. It is about encouraging people. Doing it for such a worthy charity gives us that extra impetus,” Charlie said.

The distance from Gola to Carrickfin is 3.5 kilometres and the potentially shortened swim from Gola to Gweedore is 1.5 kilometres.

The plan is that every 500 metres the swimmers will rest in the water and share their stories about how the Cancer flight charity is known to them, maybe talk about someone who has died, someone who is undergoing treatment or whatever. These stories will help to push the swimmers on for the next 500 metres.

“Anyone who wants to join in needs to be able to stay in the water for an hour at least. It is all doable. If the weather is unsafe on the day we will not,” he added.

North West Cancer Flights on a very regular basis offer comfortable subsidised flights for Donegal patients to Dublin with or without a carer. Not only for cancer treatment but other ongoing treatments there. They also provide support for those receiving treatment in Derry.

Most recently the charity, based at Ionad Naomh Pádraig Dobhar and led by the powerhouse that is Mary Coyle , have also started to provide counselling services in support of patients and families going through treatment and other trauma.


“It is an unbelievable charity in our community. If we can highlight their work by jumping into water and giving it a rattle from Gola to the mainland and we do so in a safe setting, well it won’t be a bad day.

If in the meantime we are so pumped up that we go down and practice every day and that’s not a bad day either. The sea, either being in it or around it has huge physical and emotional benefits,” Charlie stressed.

He added that if anyone wants to help with safety, support, encouragement or join in the swim, this is open to all but they must be able to swim fairly well.

“If that all sounds mad you might, but only if comfortable, donate a few euros as we can send 30 patients to Dublin for treatment with €1,000. All good solid positive, very little nonsense stuff,” he concluded.

To donate go to:


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