Paddy Conaghan (83) from Arranmore Island in Donegal got a rousing reception on the shores of Annagh Lake on Sunday morning as he continued his amazing challenge to have a dip in a lake in each of Ireland’s 32 counties. The challenge is called ‘Ducking and Driving’ around the lakes of Ireland and is designed to raise funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. PHOTOS: SEAN MCMAHON

Splash the cash for IMNDA

- Molly O'Reilly -

Thirty-two lakes in 32 counties would be a mammoth undertaking for anybody, let alone an octogenarian.

But that’s exactly what Paddy Conaghan (83) intends to do, between January 7 and February 13, in an effort to raise funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA).

With a lake for every day of the year, the Donegal native visited Cavan last Sunday morning. The Celt notes he must have been the only Donegal man in Cavan not in Kingspan Breffni on Sunday.

Instead, he took a dip in Annagh Lake near Butlersbridge as part of his personal challenge and ‘Ducking and Diving’ fundraiser.

“I do a lake a day, sometimes two,” Paddy revealed, speaking to the Celt earlier this week.

Asked why he chose the IMNDA as the beneficiary for his swims, Paddy explained how he was inspired by former broadcaster Charlie Bird who climbed Croagh Patrick last year to raise money for the charity. Charlie has MND.

Motor Neurone Disease is a condition that attacks the motor neurons, or nerves in the spine and the brain. Due to this, the brain struggles sending messages. It can affect everyday things such as mobility, walking and even talking.

This is not the first fundraiser that Paddy has done. Impressively he raised almost €110,000 a couple of years ago on GoFundMe for ‘Gemma’s Legacy of Hope’, a counselling service in Donegal for children from aged five years right up to adults.

On that occasion, Paddy swam around the coast of Ireland, starting at Aphort beach and ducking and diving in every port/beach he came to on his journey.

The feat is made all the more impressive given Paddy only learned to swim three years ago!

A native of Arranmore Island, the keen swimmer chose lakes for his latest endeavour.

Paddy is attracting quite a bit of attention and support on his travels. “Sometimes I would have a lake picked but I’d move because people would be waiting for me and get in contact.”

Although he usually sleeps in his car and travels alone, Paddy is often overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. He revealed how sometimes people who meet him at the lake offer him a place to stay.

After his Cavan dip, the next stop on Paddy’s map was County Down, followed by Monaghan on Monday.

With a target date of February 13 and €6,000 raised so far for such a worthy cause, there’s plenty of time to splash the cash.

You can donate to the cause by searching clicking here