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GAA personalities join forces to back RNLI drowning prevention campaign ‘Respect the Water’

GAA presenter and commentator Marty Morrissey and hurling legend Anthony Daly joined RNLI lifeboat crew and young players from county Clare to raise awareness of the risks of drowning and encourage people to enjoy the water safely. The ‘Respect the Water’ campaign is part of a joint-partnership between the RNLI and the GAA.

The RNLI’s work with the GAA to prevent drowning involves RNLI volunteer ambassadors visiting GAA clubs around the country to give water safety advice to young people and to raise awareness of the risks of drowning. Thirty-seven RNLI volunteers have delivered over a hundred talks as part of the partnership with more due to take place during the summer months.

GAA legends Marty Morrissey and Anthony Daly have joined forces to back the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign ‘Respect the Water.’ The two men are Ambassadors for the RNLI/GAA partnership and visited lifeboat crew and young GAA players at Kilrush RNLI, Co Clare. With them are RNLI Crew Members, John Vaughan and Ian Lynch and junior members of the local GAA Clubs, Padraig Young, Ciara O’Brien, Abbie Manning and Cara Conway. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

To promote this year’s campaign, GAA personalities Marty Morrissey and Anthony Daly joined young players from Killimer GAA, Kilrush Shamrocks, Kilrush Ladies Football Club, Kilkee Football Club, Kilkee Bealaha GAA, West Clare Gaels and O’Currys GAA. Both men had very personal reasons for backing the partnership and becoming Ambassadors for it.

Marty Morrissey’s home place is in the picturesque fishing village of Quilty in West Clare on the Wild Atlantic Way where the Sea has always been part of everybody’s life. As a result Marty loves the water but is also aware of its dangers and although he attempted to learn how to swim as a child, he never quite got over his fear. This was re-enforced in recent months when he was filming a survival sequence in the recent TV hit ‘Marty and Bernard’s Big Adventure’ when they had to enter a lake and that old fear returned. He has promised himself to learn how to swim when this season’s GAA Championship is over.

Speaking at the launch he said, ‘When I was young boy growing up in Quilty, my bedroom literally looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean. I remember that every 13 seconds the light from the lighthouse on the Aran Islands shone in my window. I would paddle in the water and some of my friends would jump into the water back at the pier in Seafield, but I wouldn’t, I had the fear. I want to get over that and I’ve set myself the challenge to learn properly.’ It is so important because after all , we all live on the island of Ireland and water plays such an important part of our lives. I am from a Fishing village so well aware of the dangers of the Sea.’

Speaking on the importance of the partnership, Marty continued, ‘I think the RNLI and the GAA are interlinked in many ways. They are both about community. I love the water and I respect it. If we can get more people enjoying it safely and raising awareness so that no family have to go through the pain of losing a loved one, then I see that as a win. We’ve had too many tragedies in this country. I’m looking forward to the day that I can go for swim and enjoy the water.’

GAA legend Marty Morrissey and Anthony Daly with RNLI Crew Members, Martina Dunleavy, Operations Manager, Vincent Keating, Charlie Glynne, Coxswain,Csilla Trungal, John Vaughan, Ian Lynch Shawna Johnson, Martina Kenyon, and local GAA Clubs, Shamrocks, Kilrush and West Clare Gaels GAA Clubs. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

Anthony Daly has a very personal reason for wanting to promote the partnership. He lost a good friend, Michael Scanlan (affectionately known by all as ‘Fondi’), to drowning many years ago. Fondi was a long-standing kit man at his beloved Clarecastle GAA club and drowned while out fishing. Speaking about the tragedy Anthony said, ‘Everyone knew and loved Fondi. He was from a big family where I grew up. He was a great GAA man and came from a strong fishing background. When word came to the village that Fondi was lost, there was a rush to the quay to help. We spent the week walking the banks and we wouldn’t go to training while the search was ongoing. He was found the following Sunday at the River Fergus and while it was a blessing for the family, his loss has been deeply felt by everyone who knew him.’

Anthony swims in the sea every week and has made sure his daughters can swim. Commenting on the campaign he said, ‘The RNLI is a great organisation for the GAA to be involved with in local communities. I think there is an awareness of water safety, but we can never stop banging the drum. I love the water and I want my daughters to love the water too and not fear it. Anything we can do to raise awareness of the risks of drowning and to share water safety advice, can only be a good thing.’

The key message of the RNLI’s ‘Respect the Water’ campaign is to Float To Live if you find yourself in trouble in cold water. This involves: Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about – this can lead to breathing in water and drowning
• Instead, relax and FLOAT on your back, until you have regained control of your breathing.
• The recommended floating position is to lean back in the water and keep your nose and mouth clear and extend your arms and legs.
*If you find it difficult to float then make gentle motions such as sculling with your hands and feet and concentrate on bringing your breathing under control.

For more advice on how to float and other water safety advice visit

The RNLI will be present at Croke Park on Sunday 28 July to promote the Respect the Water campaign during the All-Ireland hurling semi-final and to share water safety advice with the thousands of fans travelling to see the match. Volunteers from RNLI lifeboat stations around Ireland will be on the pitch at half time to share the Float To Live message. The campaign is running throughout the summer with advertising across cinema, outdoor posters, radio, online, and catch-up TV channels.