"Man of Arran": A Cinematic Tribute to Man of the Year, Paddy Conaghan, by the Visionaries Behind WildSwim Ireland

“Man of Arran”: A Cinematic Tribute to Man of the Year, Paddy Conaghan, by the Visionaries Behind WildSwim Ireland

Last year, we celebrated Paddy Conaghan as our “Man of the Year,” a title he earned not just for his 300 “Ducking and Diving” charity swims around Arranmore Island in Ireland but for his dedication to raising awareness for mental health. Today, we’re thrilled to spotlight a short film that captures the essence of Paddy’s journey – “Man of Arran.” Directed and produced by Paul McCambridge, the artistic director of WildSwim Ireland, this film is a visual ode to Paddy’s spirit and the breathtaking beauty of the Irish coastline.

Donal Macintyre, one of the the executive producer of the film says:

Man of Arran is a love letter to humanity from a wise man.

In step with these times and in tune with his environment: – it’s a homage to the craggy, rugged, wild Irish coastline. A gentle celebration of empathy and humility from an 82 year old swimmer pushing himself to impossible lengths in communion with nature and with compassion for the grief of a friend.

There are no stereotypes or cliches that chime effectively with this film but to connect with a few…

It is uplifting, inspiring and beautiful.

Paul McCambridge, Paddy Conaghan and Maureen McCoy Photo credit: Newletter.co.uk

About WildSwim Ireland and Its Founders

For those who might be unfamiliar, WildSwim Ireland is an online platform designed to celebrate the joy of swimming in the open waters of Ireland. Founded by Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge, their site is a reservoir of stories, training plans and a Swim Spotter – Interactive Map tool that displays some of the best open water swimming locations in the country. 

Maureen McCoy is an award-winning long-distance open water swimmer with an impressive list of achievements, including swimming the English Channel and winning numerous long-distance swimming events. Her love for the outdoors and her sense of adventure have been evident since her childhood days, swimming in the sea, loughs, and rock pools in the Mournes. Maureen’s dedication to the sport extends beyond personal achievements; she inspires future generations as a swim and diving teacher. You can delve deeper into Maureen’s journey and her coaching sessions at Flow Swimming.

Paul McCambridge rediscovered his love for open water swimming in 2007. With notable swims like the North Channel Relay. He’s also an accomplished photographer with over 30 years of experience, capturing moments for national and international publications. His work in visual arts has been showcased in renowned venues like Tate Modern, London, and The Lowry Gallery, Salford.

Together, Maureen and Paul authored the book “Wild Swimming in Ireland: Discover 50 Places to Swim in Rivers, Lakes & the Sea.” This guide, filled with expert tips and stunning photos, inspires readers to explore Ireland’s best wild swimming spots. 

Paul filming Paddy Photo credit: Newletter.co.uk

“Man of Arran” and Paddy Conaghan’s New Challenge

Director Paul McCambridge:

“We spotted Paddy in December last year, he was doing a thing called ‘Ducking and Driving’ around Ireland, having a dip at every pier that he could get access to, to raise money for a mental health charity in Donegal. He raised over 100,000 Euro.

“This time he’s going in a clockwise direction and he’s called it ‘Driving and Ducking’.

“I popped down to see him and I couldn’t believe what he was doing. If the beach was too rough what he would do was tie a rope around himself and attach it to some railings or get somebody to hold it and then he’d go in. I was there with the camera to take some pictures and Maureen held the rope for him and in he went. It was amazing to see.”

“We built up a relationship with him and we’ve been back and forth to Arranmore since that, we’ve been helping out with water safety courses on the island with the schools.

“This is an add-on to what we’d normally do – taking pictures. At that stage I thought this would also make for a great short film.

“It has just snowballed, he’s started talking to us about his life. He’s had a tough enough upbringing, he worked in the tunnels, he was a miner as such, he’s worked around the world.”


From the website:

“Paddy was born on the small island of Arranmore off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. Paddy, now at the age of 82 has embarked on a mission to raise funds and most importantly awareness for mental health. Having picked one mental health charity in each of Ireland’s provinces along with the RNLI, as he says they are his insurers.

His challenge sees him attempting to swim at every beach on the Island of Ireland over a 4 month period, by the way there’s well over 500!… Adding to the difficulty he also decided to do this during the winter, braving Ireland’s notorious cold and unpredictable weather conditions.

When asked why he picked the winter to do this challenge and not the summer, Paddy replied “if I do it in the summer it’s only a holiday!”

As we travel with him, we learn about the many life experiences that have brought him from humble beginnings and a lust for adventure to this challenge, as he revisits these memories with stories. Some humorous, some sad and others bordering legality!”

Film Details:

Title: Man Of Arran
Year: 2023
Director/Producer: Paul McCambridge
Executive Producer: Donal Macintyre
Country: Ireland
Duration: 20 Mins
Showings: TBA

The film has already garnered attention from the cinematic world. Jim Sheridan, the acclaimed Irish Director known for masterpieces like “In the Name of the Father” and “My Left Foot,” took the time to view our 20-minute film. The feedback? Overwhelmingly positive. As quoted by WildSwim Ireland, “We are over the moon by his positive feedback and endorsement of our film featuring Paddy!”

Since beginning his journey, Paddy has raised €126,208.60 for Gemmas Legacy of Hope, The RNLI, PIPS, Accessible Counselling Tullamore, Lisheens House Suicide Prevention Service, and Mindspace Mayo.

To donate to Paddy’s challenge go to www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/paddysadventure


Cousins, Graeme. “Northern Ireland photographer on trail of Co Donegal man, 81, who is taking a dip at all of Ireland’s beaches.” Newsletter. Link.