A Long Swim
A NORTHSIDE man is celebrating after becoming the oldest man ever to swim the North Channel.
Fergal Somerville, 50, from Beaumont, achieved his extraordinary feat on June 16 when he swam from Northern Ireland to Scotland in a time of 12 hours and 21 minutes.
Somerville, who even encountered a shark on his grueling journey, left Donaghadee in Co. Down at 5:10 a.m. and arrived on the Scottish coast, just north of Portpatrick, at 5:21 p.m.
It proved to be second time lucky for the plucky Northsider. On July 10, 2012, his first attempt ended due to bad weather when he was one and a half hours into the swim.
Somerville, who swam the English Channel in 2011, conceded that there were times when he felt he wasn’t going to make it.
“There were lots of times but I just wouldn’t give up,” he said.
“Every time I felt like stopping I just pushed harder. I knew the early start meant prolonged cold for a number of hours. I had practiced and swam in cold water as often as I could.”
Prior to the race, Somerville used a permanent marker to write the letter E on the palm of his hand and a C on the other – a reference to his sons Eoin and Conor. He felt this would help to drive him on when things got tough.
During the swim, Somerville said he had an “interesting experience” with a shark.
“As I battled along in the bright I saw a shark swimming about two and a half meters below me,” he said.
“The great blue elegant beast was about eight to 10 feet long. I wondered if I was going to start flailing my arms and screaming to be taken into the boat before I was devoured. But I hadn’t changed my stroke or pace.
“In a flash I decided the swim was too important and I kept going. I didn’t signal to the boat, although I looked across to see if they were aware of the shark I saw or possibly others. There was no reaction from them at all. I kept going. The shark passed under me another three times.”
As with all his swim challenges, Somerville raised money for charity and the beneficiaries this time will be the Irish Cancer Society.
GARDAI have confirmed they are investigating a complaint made about a man exposing himself on a rural Limerick road.
He allegedly “flashed” motorists between Guerin’s Cross and Kilteely village on Monday, June 24 around 7 p.m.
One local said everybody is talking about it.
“He was wearing a pair of shorts, just walking along the road and in a flash he whipped off his breeches when he saw a car coming.
“He exposed himself to a lady driving home from work. As you can imagine, she got an awful fright. It is the last thing you would expect. It is disgusting carry on,” said the local resident who didn’t wish to be named.
He says the man is believed to be in his thirties and he also exposed himself to two men who were driving a jeep.
“They stopped, turned around and went back but he had gone at that stage. It is hard to understand it.
“That stretch of road is very peaceful. Of all the places for this to happen you wouldn’t think it would be there. It is unbelievable,” the resident added.
Gardai said there was a call in relation to the incident.
“A complaint was made that a man was apparently seen to have been exposing himself,” said the spokesperson.
He said that Gardai immediately attended the scene after the call and carried out a search but, like with the men in the jeep, they couldn’t locate the person.
“Thank God schools are on holidays at the moment because you would hate for a child to be witness to something like this if they were going to school,” said the local.
THE massive increase in numbers attending gaming arcades along the Inishowen border -- particularly at Bridgend -- has led to one leading addiction expert stating that many people were now looking for quick fixes to solve their growing economic difficulties.
Father James Sweeney said there was “absolutely no doubt” there was a massive increase in gaming.
“It’s not just the gaming arcades. The National Lottery has a ticket to suit all pockets, any thing from €1 to €10. And the more people find themselves in trouble the more the compulsion to gamble, to think that you can win to solve your problem. And as we all know that doesn’t happen.”
A registered and qualified addiction expert, Sweeney said the addiction to gaming can take hold much quicker and much more easily than most people realize.
“Before many people know it the money for gambling takes precedence over money for the essential like food and fuel. It’s serious,” he said.
Burned to Death
A 42-YEAR-old man who died last Tuesday evening after dousing himself in petrol and setting himself alight was laid to rest over the weekend.
Patrick Dunne from Loughan, Moynalty, is believed to have knocked on the window of the home of his former partner in Townspark, Navan, and said “I love you” before setting himself on fire.
Horrified residents used buckets of water and towels as they attempted to save his life. However, despite the frantic efforts of locals to quench the flames, Dunne was later pronounced dead at Our
Lady’s Hospital, Navan, after suffering severe burns.
It is understood the horrific incident was witnessed by a number of children. Gardai have described the incident as a personal tragedy.
Mormons in Sligo
THEY are young with neat haircuts, white shirts, ties and a friendly demeanor. They are Mormon Missionaries who travel the globe to preach for their church.
Twenty-year-old Shaun Walker from Orem, Utah is in Sligo. He left behind his family and college life to take up a mission that will last for two years. He arrived in Sligo five weeks ago and intends to stay for six months.
There are about 20 Mormons in Sligo, a far cry from the millions of followers Worldwide.
"In Utah some 50 percent of the population belongs to our church," Walker says.
Most of the younger members apply to go on a mission.
"You submit your application and you go through about four or five interviews before being accepted. You are then assigned to a mission and mine was Sligo,” he said.
"It's a volunteer role. We pay to come out on mission. My parents helped to pay for my mission here."
All missionaries have to pay €10,000 before they can go. "It's a matter of saving up. Many save money from part-time jobs such as in restaurants," Walker says.
The missionaries, referred to also as elders, observe what many would regard as a strict life.
Walker gets up at 6:30 a.m. each day and exercises for half an hour.
Study of the Mormon bible follows before he carries out church work. He's in bed by 10:30 every night.
He is limited to contacting his parents just once a week by email. "It was difficult at first but I've got used to it now. I've been working so hard I've forgotten about myself and home life. I have left behind a lot but I have learned so much being a missionary,” he says.
"I've helped so many people. I see my time in Sligo as a blessing. When I applied I only dreamed of being assigned to somewhere as exciting and full of history as Ireland. I am so very excited to be here and to learn more about the culture and people.
"I want to share this message with anyone who will listen.”
This involves stopping people in the street for a chat.
"We just stop and talk. In one afternoon we could talk up to 100 people. We wear our name badges so a lot of people recognize us but many have never even heard of us,” Walker says.
"Many don't want to talk about religion at all, others might chat for 10 or 15 minutes.
"One or two might give us their number and address so we can call to their house later for a chat. Many just want to talk about their problems.”
The Sligo Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is located at Pearse Road. There's a Sunday service at 11 a.m. They have about 20 active members in Sligo.
There are four Mormon missionaries in Sligo at present, including a retired couple.
The Sligo Champion