Northern Ireland news

Dungiven swimmer is on a Trip to Dip adventure to raise funds for Indian children

Gráinne McMacken with seaweed in her hand on the beach at Clogherhead in Co Louth.
Amanda Ferguson

A DUNGIVEN woman is swimming in the waters off every county around the coast of Ireland to raise money for deprived and vulnerable children in the slums of India.

Gráinne McMacken, who now lives in Belfast, organised the 'Trip to Dip' to support the Hope Foundation's health programme in Calcutta.

So far she has raised €2,000 for the Irish charity which was set up 16 years ago by Cork woman Maureen Forrest to help abandoned children at risk of abuse and mistreatment.

Ms McMacken's challenge started in Helen's Bay, Co Down in June.

She has been working clockwise around Ireland, swimming in Rosses Point in Sligo, Bertra Strand in Co Mayo, in Ventry in Dingle and other picturesque locations.

Of the 17 counties on her list just three are left - Leitrim, Donegal and Derry.

"Getting into cold water in the rain, wind and sun can be challenging in itself, not to mention the added excitement of encountering some of our marine life and coping with variable sea conditions," she said.

"There has been quite a lot of jellyfish at times but luckily I have not been stung. The water can be very cool and sea-weedy, which isn't very nice, but all the places have been beautiful.

"I was in Salthill in Galway on Sunday and my family and friends came to support me. That was real highlight."

Ms McMacken said as well as the opportunity to challenge herself physically and mentally she has been connecting with communities and spreading the word about the Hope Foundation's work.

The Active Belfast dietitian is heading to India in December to volunteer and use her skills to promote good nutrition and health.

"It is a huge country full of diverse cultures and customs, a country with an amazing history," she said.

"There is so much beauty, yet it is mixed with great deprivation. I'm going again now, at a time in my life when I feel I have useful skills to offer and can help some of the vulnerable children."

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