The Munster Blackwater (Irish: An Abhainn Mhór or Abha Mhór na Mumhan (Munster dialect), the “Great River”) is one of the great rivers of the British Isles. Almost 170 km in length, it rises in the Mullaghareirk Mountains near Ballydesmond, Co. Kerry and flows through Co. Cork and Co. Waterford before meeting the sea at the town of Youghal.
I have been swimming in the Blackwater in the town of Fermoy, 60 km upstream from Youghal, since I was very young. I started swimming there with my grandfather, Tom Baker from Fermoy, when I was about 7 or 8 years old. In August 2010, Ned Denison and I swam downstream from Ballyhooly to Fermoy, a distance of 10 km. In July and August of 2012, I completed three big swims in the river: 18.6 km from Fermoy to Ballyduff, 15.0 km from Ballyduff to Cappoquin and 26.4 km from Cappoquin to Youghal. In August 2013, I swam the full 60 km from Fermoy to Youghal in a time of 12 hours 8 minutes – this is my longest swim, in terms of both time and distance, so far.
The only open water swimming event on the river is the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim in Fermoy. In the future, we hope to be able to offer a 26.4 km swim in the lower reaches of the river for those who like a challenge.
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