The River Nore

The Nore Swim always proves to be a highlight in my summer calendar. It is organised by the Kilkenny branch of Water Safety Ireland. Various local charitable organisations benefit from the donation of the registration fee. In 2019, the Nore Dragon Paddlers Womens Breast Cancer Survivors Team was the worthy recipient. My cousin paddles with this team, so I was thrilled to support its endeavours.
Having parents who hail from Kilkenny, provides me with a special connection to this city. For many years. I have been an active member of the Dublin branch of Water Safety Ireland. At weekends, I coach both children and adolescents in the skills of Water Safety in The King’s Hospital, Dublin. I am delighted to raise awareness of Water Safety and more specifically to support Kilkenny Water Safety on an annual basis.
In recent years, participating in this iconic swim has become a family event. On the eve of the swim, I stay with my parents in Croghtenclogh. On the morning of the swim, we travel to the city together. Traditionally, the swim has taken place between two bridges over the Nore, namely Green’s Bridge and John’s Bridge. Prior to the swim, we walk the length of the course, anticipating how cold the water would be! We admire the surrounding views, including that of Kilkenny’s newest bridge, St. Francis Bridge, which opened to motorists in 2017. The heritage sites of St. Francis Abbey and St. Canice’s Cathedral can also be recognised from this bridge. We then stroll along the banks of the Nore from Green’s Bridge, through the Peace Park to John’s Bridge. Being the month of August, the flora and fauna are a sight to behold. Many varieties of flowers in full bloom adorn the bridges. My father, who has a keen interest in history, regularly reminds me of the history associated with each of the bridges and the historical monuments in the environs. This has become somewhat of a ritual for us each year. We usually visit the Great War Memorial, which honours the 825 Kilkenny people who lost their lives in the First World War. Shortly afterwards, we cross Lady Desart Bridge. This pedestrian and cycle bridge was opened in 2014. It was named in honour of Lady Desart who was a patron of the city. A lovely view of the City Library is to be enjoyed while crossing this bridge (or indeed swimming under it)! There is also time for a welcome ‘cuppa’ in one of the coffee shops close to the Nore before the swim commences.
On completion of the swim, my parents and I reunite at Canal Square, located beside John’s Bridge. As my parents are keen hurling fans, taking photos at the special hurling sculpture is a must. This sculpture features three hurlers, in black and amber, reaching for a slíotar. It serves as a fitting tribute to those who hurl for Kilkenny.
All participants are invited to the presentation of medals in The Set Theatre, Langtons. During this ceremony, the Lord Mayor presents the winners with their prizes. All swimmers are fortunate to receive a participation medal, depicting a view of the city.
In 2018, Kilkenny Masters Swim Team launched a new swim called the Marble City Mile, whose name in part is attributed to the large deposits of black limestone in the general area. I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the inaugural Marble City Mile. This offers a different vantage point to the Nore Swim, where one appreciates, mid-stroke, a memorable view of Kilkenny Castle.
I will forever treasure the memories of this waterway.