16 September 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard


FUN in the mud was the order of the afternoon last Saturday as one or two brief showers helped Mother Nature to bring back a temporary human appearance to some seventy daring individuals— both male and female—who took part in the third annual Irish National Bog Snorkelling Championships at a muddy lake beside Alice’s Loft and Cottages at Doohamlet, near Castleblayney.
The contestants —all wearing snorkels—-were making a vain bid to create a unique new Irish record!
One of the key-organisers of the event, Declan Connolly, who operates the highly successful self-catering cottages at Doohamlet, was first to enter the bog- lake in a bid to beat the record set last year by Dubliner Peter Cunningham, who had completed a 120-metre swim, in 1 minute and 24 seconds, in the thick mud!.
But Declan’s effort failed to beat the time chalked up by a Co. Armagh contender, Jonathan Hilliard from Portadown, who completed the 120-metre swim in 1 minute and 30 seconds, which was the best performance of the mud-splashing afternoon.
The record-holder Cunningham was out of the country at the weekend and unable to take part to defend his quirky record in this year’s event.
But as events proved, he needn’t have worried, because his 2010 record still stands!.
A German contender, Ingo Weieaver, who was holidaying in Dublin, came 2nd to the Portadown challenger, with a time of 1 minute and 34 seconds, while another visitor from Dublin, Conor Mullagh, was 3rd at a time of 1 minute and 37 seconds.
The German runner-up, Mr Weiraver said he had decided to “taste the Irish mud”, while two American visitors, John Gorham from Atlanta, and Dave Richardson from Colorado, both also holidaying in the country, described the bog snorkeling as a totally “refreshing and enriching” Irish experience !.
Website tourism promotion official , Lisa Fitzpatrick, 26, of the sponsors of the event, who traveled from Kerry, was hoping some of her “speedy strokes” might set a new bog snorkelling record for Irish women, but this was not to be, and in a close mud-paddling finish, LIsa, along with a southern colleague, Deirdre O’Callaghan, 25, and a 20-years-old Hungarian lady, Eszter Kalolzkia, were all pipped at the post, by a 19-years-old Tipperary participant, Emma Delahunt, who completed the 60- metre snorkel- swim in a somewhat lightening 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

It was also a fun-filled and exciting event for the younger populace, with Conor Merrick,15, from Blayney winning the Junior Boys’ Mud Swim and Orla Maguire, 15, also from Blayney, taking the laurels for the younger ladies.
Top Co. Monaghan contestant was Joe Smith from The Crescent, Blayney, who deservedly took the title “Monaghan Bogger of the Year” award.
Joe was presented with his prize at a reception, which followed the bog snorkelling programme at the Old Coach Inn, York Street, Blayney on Saturday night. Excellent music was provided for the entertainment by the Cheesy Bitches music group.
Organiser Declan Connolly in congratulating the various winners, and thanking all the “courageous competitors” also especially thanked the sponsors, including businessman Raymond Watters of the Old Coach Inn, for the support they received for the unique event which, he said, is fast becoming a major Irish tourist attraction for the region, each year.
Mr. Connolly said “It’s absolutely amazing how much overseas interest had grown, through the Internet, in this event in Ireland in the past three years”.
“This was the third time we staged it here and it is now seems firmly established as a major national annual fixture—-all the entrants really love the tough Irish challenge in the mud”.
“Some of those trying to swim in the mud for the first time wearing a snorkel have said they found it a challenging experience, but it had great appeal, while others claimed the only thing missing on Saturday was a monster emerging from the bog!”.

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