Derry superwoman swims every coast in Ireland for poor children

By Joyce Rubotham  @seoighee

So many of those living in our local communities are nothing short of real life superheroes because of their charitable deeds – and Gráinne McMacken – who is swimming every coast across Ireland is simply put a superwoman.

Gráinne, from Dungiven, Co Derry, has almost completed her mission – one big super swim across 17 waterways – that has been going on since May.  And she has raised an impressive €2,342.20 for her efforts.

The dietician started the mammoth task to raise funds for The Hope Foundation – a charity dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children in Kolkata and the most underprivileged in India.

Gráinne had no training for the charity swims.  But a love she has for swimming in the sea clearly motivates her.

Throughout the year she keeps fit by cycling and jogging. Every summer she enjoys swimming off her local beaches. Her enthusiasm for the sea is infectious.  “I always feel so refreshed after a swim in the sea.”

Her first swim from the most northerly point of Northern Island, Rathlin island, Co Antrim, began in “very cold” said Gráinne.

And despite suffering an injury Gráinne carried on – keeping the children who could benefit from her efforts clearly in her mind with every stroke.

Grainne has swam through injury and cold to get help impoverished children
Grainne has swam through injury and cold to get help impoverished children

The highlight so far for Gráinne came when she swam off the beautiful coast of Dingle at Ventry beach – a place she had long wished to see.

She is helping a vital charity – but while Gráinne is raising money for a great cause, she is also on her own personal journey, challenging herself daily and enjoying the pleasure, the freedom of visiting some of the best beaches in Ireland.

Under pressure to get through the list of 17 counties Gráinne took a week off work this month and swam every day for six consecutive days.

The aim is to raise €2,500 to fund a trip to Kolkata where Gráinne will work as a volunteer in one of the Hope Foundation’s 60 projects there.

With her mission almost completed, Gráinne is close to achieving her goal.  Her final swim will take place from Benone beach in Co Derry on July 31.


Gráinne is optimistic that her skills will match up with the needs of this charity.

She is, typical of a superwoman, remarkably humble in her approach to the whole matter.  “I have no fixed ideas about the work I will be doing out there, I’ll do whatever needs to be done,” she said.

Gráinne wanted to help the Hope Foundation due to their ethos to support and educate children who can subsequently improve their own lives.

Grainne swim 3

The swimmer is passionate about the changes the Hope Foundation makes to the most disadvantaged children’s lives. “It’s the idea of creating a legacy through long-term support and education, not just hand-outs,” she said.

An estimated 1.5 million people live in slums in Kolkata, one of India’s largest cities without access to basic facilities like running water, waste removal or sanitation.

Such abysmal living conditions incubate social problems like child-abuse, drug addiction and forced child-labour.

The Hope Foundation works to protect and improve the lives of children living in these slums.

“I just wouldn’t be able to go around asking people to donate to a cause unless I believe in it 100 per cent,” Gráinne said.

It’s clear she has every reason to believe in her chosen cause.  Gráinne now plans to use the funds she raises, combined with her skills, to help her get to where she is needed – working on the ground to help improve the lives of children.

You can follow Gráinne around the Irish coast by checking out her Facebook page.

To donate log on to

Gráinne is only short €157.80 of her target.


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