We set off from different locations, Monica headed down from Kilkenny while I cut across from Cork. We talked about it the night before and decided against going naked all day, it could cause havoc on the motorways, not to mention trying to get a coffee afterwards.
We met in Youghal at a wrong turn, I took the wrong turn, Monica of course was on track, so I followed her silver car to the Quality Hotel. A little late for registration we made straight for reception. All eyes were downcast as we passed, everyone seemed a little embarrassed.
“But we still have our clothes on?” I questioned my younger sister, who for years has patiently played my elder.
“It’s okay Helena, they’re probably doing the dip too,”
“God if it’s like this now, what’s it going to be like on the beach,”
“Just don’t look down,” my sister warned as if we were about to climb Everest.
Registration went smoothly and we were sent to our nudie location. There the spirits were livelier, a buzz had descended on the place and some confident dippers were already in the nip. We averted our eyes and made chit chit with lots of other nervy swimmers. The main discussion point was how close the men’s dipping location appeared to be to ours, one of our new friends extremely concerned about this, questioned obsessively until we got an answer.
“See those pink balloons way down there,” we turned our heads, without my glasses I hadn’t a notion, “and those blue ones way down there,” our heads turned the opposite direction, “the pinks are where the women go in and the blue are for the men, you’ll be specks!”
There was a mass release of pent up air, the fellas were ages away. Even if their bits were massive, we’d never see them!
Next we headed for the tent, here we got our first taste. No one was shy and naked women sauntered this way and that, I had to get changed beside a women who insisted on poking her hairy bare bottom into my face. Everyone made an effort, body paint, wigs, feather boas, ivy scarves, we felt a little under dressed and vowed should we do it again we’d make more of an effort.
On the beach the tension rose, old and young giggled like school children and I shifted hastily from foot to foot, more nervous than the start of any race. Mon took out her camera and tried to sneak a few pictures. Close to eight the countdown began, everyone trotted on the spot, “ten, nine, eight, seven…” at three we shed our dressing gowns and got caught in the moment. All thirty to forty of us screamed and ran head long into the freezing waters. Everything on everyone wobbled and it felt good, real. The laughter was infectious.
We were in it together, friends supporting their friends, sisters supporting their mother, families supporting their father, wrapped in the energy and it was amazing. One women who’s bottom read “I kicked Cancers ass!” hugged her friend “we’ve done a lot of crazy things but this is definitely the craziest,” she screamed. A round of ole, ole, ole, ole broke out and we became a pack of naked soccor supporters.
As we walked back onto the beach, all self consciousness washed away by the sea, it didn’t matter anymore that we were naked, it seemed silly to put back on our clothes, this thought lasted until I reached my gown.
The moment though amazing had felt too short and as women shed their clothes once more and rushed for the waters, I looked at Monica.
“Do it again?” she nodded and we headed back in with the others. This time we stayed for a while to keep the feeling.
After the dip, men and women met for tea and food on the beach, there was a quiet calm, and we watched the waters play with the shoreline on this sunny Sunday morning. Then we wrote a message for the rag tree, our reason for this our mother, bid our new friends goodbye til next year and headed for Youghal.
Over coffee we couldn’t quite grasp what we’d done, what we felt or what it meant, but we were happy, it was sunny and life was good. Today as I write this is the last day of my mothers treatment, seems fitting!
Thanks a million to everyone for the support, we hope you’ll all come back with us next year, at the risk of sounding like a hippy, it was liberating!! Fundraising stays open for another month so if you feel like sending a few bob our way just click here