Paddy preparing to ‘Duck and Drive’ again for charity

AN 81-year-old Arranmore man who completed an epic swim around Ireland’s coast is preparing to get back into the water.

Paddy Conaghan raised over €112,000 through his ‘Ducking and Driving’ challenge which took him to ports and piers the entire circumference of the island.

He undertook the mission for Gemma’s Legacy of Hope, a counselling service established in memory of Burtonport woman Gemma Boyle who died in February 2020.


Paddy’s efforts and dedication captured hearts and imaginations all over the world as he stopped to chat to people and hear their stories of loss, of struggle and of hope.

It was while handing over the cheque to Gemma’s Legacy of Hope that the brave pensioner made the surprise announcement that he was pulling on his swimming shorts again.

Paddy will set off on December 4 in a van donated by Seamus and Louise of Arranmore’s Blue Ferry. It has been adapted so it has a window, a bed and a heater.

Rather than going along the same route as before this time Paddy will head north first, up around the Donegal coast and over across Portrush and Portstewart before travelling down the far side of the island.

On his original quest he completed over 300 swims, including 12 dips in a single day. Similar numbers are likely to be clocked up this time and the octogenarian expects to be on the road until mid to late February.

The RNLI and four mental health charities, one in each of the four provinces, will benefit from ‘Ducking and Driving II’.

Assisting Paddy as before will be his close friend Elaine Barney.


Revealing his plans, Paddy said, “After I finished the journey I was thinking about all the people I met and how good they were to me.

“I thought then about how I could help the communities around Ireland and I have picked four mental health charities.

“I had a talk with Elaine because she is going to do a lot of the work and we settled on a charity in each province and the RNLI.

“So I’m going around Ireland again Ducking and Driving but in the opposite direction. I’m going to swim at all the beaches and some piers and jetties. It will be a different challenge this time as I’m planning to stay in the van the whole way.”

Elaine said it was hard to quantify the amount of goodwill the original fundraiser created.

“It’s so hard to put into words all we got out of it.

“Paddy set out to pass the time for himself in the winter months and it just exploded. It got to the stage where I had to turn my phone off at night because messages were coming in constantly, from places like America, from the Middle East, all over the world.

“It brought people together at a time when Covid was keeping them apart. I’ve spoken to people who told how they were looking forward to every evening checking up to see where Paddy was and how he was getting on. It was incredible and it helped so many people tell their personal stories of bereavement and of loss. It created such an awareness of mental health too and for it raise to such an amount of money for Gemma’s Legacy of Hope was amazing.”

With fuel prices what they are, Ducking and Driving II will not be without expense.

To cover the cost a raffle for two flights from Donegal to Dublin is being organised.

An iDonate page will also be set up in the coming days.

Keep an eye on the ‘Ducking and Driving Around Ireland’ Facebook page for full details.

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