Pub­lished: May 13th, 1986 Pho­to­graph: Der­mot O’Shea

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE - Ar­minta Wallace

It’s the time of year when peo­ple like to en­ter our in­land wa­ter­ways, from all sorts of an­gles. You may re­call last week’s photo of a boy jump­ing into Ringsend Basin: this week’s im­age is, per­haps, even more out­landish. The Lif­fey is a stern prospect. Most of us re­gard the idea of a dip in its oily green wa­ters with the same sort of hor­ror which greeted Prince Philip’s sug­ges­tion, on a royal visit to Dublin in 2011, that it might be in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of a pint of Guin­ness. Sea swim­mers im­merse them­selves in it reg­u­larly, as do flotil­las of kayak­ers and row­ers. But cy­cling into the Lif­fey? No. That’s some­thing you do when you’ve had a pint or two too many.

So it would be in­ter­est­ing to know who came up with the wheeze por­trayed in to­day’s pho­to­graph, which shows stu­dents from Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin “rid­ing bi­cy­cles off O’Connell Bridge into the Lif­fey to raise money for the Sanc­tu­ary Trust char­ity”. The men are named as Donal Gill and Ger Daly from Bal­lyma­hon, Co Long­ford, and Peter Dil­lane from Laois. Our pho­tog­ra­pher has recorded the plunge with dizzy­ing im­me­di­acy. The first jumper has al­ready hit the river. The sec­ond is about to en­ter the choppy wa­ter, hands first ( per­haps in prayer?) while clearly vis­i­ble at the top left is the rick­ety struc­ture which the cy­clists had to mount in or­der to cross the para­pet – cy­cling the plank, rather than walk­ing it. The third man is barely off his bike, arms and legs still spi­ralling in “oh no – I’m go­ing to fall!” mode, mak­ing it hard to look at him with­out hold­ing your breath in the vain hope that he might still, some­how, be able to stop.

The folk on the bridge, mean­while, are cheer­ing him on, their faces a ta­pes­try of ad­mi­ra­tion, de­light and unadul­ter­ated hor­ror. Which is the big­gest change since 1986. If it hap­pened now there’d be, not faces, but a pha­lanx of mo­bile phones lined up along the bridge, record­ing – rather than liv­ing – the mo­ment.

Archive pho­to­graphs and otherIr­ish Times images can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

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