Described on Wikipedia as “The Godfather of Irish Channel Swimming”, the pioneering exploits of Kieran Fitzgerald in long distance swimming has been recognised with a prestigious Hall of Fame Award.
Drumshanbo native Kieran Fitzgerald gained huge fame as he swum the English Channel in 15 hours 23 minutes from England to France as a 31-year-old in September 1994 while he also completed a 28.5 mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 1998 and a crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar in 1997.
Kieran will receive his award at the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association Awards dinner on Tuesday, March 13, in Dublin.
The Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland is a new organisation, founded in 2017 with the objective of recognising and honouring leading marathon swimmers and contributors to the sport in Ireland.
Ned Denison of Hall of Fame - Marathon Swimming Ireland said “This serves as a historic record and provide heroes and role models for future generations. In 2017 there were more than 1,000 marathon swimmers who met the citizenship and resident eligibility criteria
“There are 150 known marathon swimmers from County Cork alone and 96 English Channel solo swimmers. For contributors, there were also more than 1,000 who filled roles as administrators, coaches, crew, media, organisations, pilots, sponsors, volunteers, etc.
“While anyone can nominate a swimmer or contributor, please note the numbers above and the emphasis that The Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland will honour only a small number.
"Eligibility into the Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland requires that all swimmers and contributors must either be Irish citizens, regardless of domicile, or have lived in Ireland for the years of meritorious involvement in the sport.”
What makes Kieran's achievements all the more remarkable is the fact he trained for his long distance swimming exploits in the decidedly short 15-metre long pool in the Sligo Park Leisure Centre while at weekends, the Drumshanbo men would travel to the Mount Errigal Hotel 20-metre pool in Letterkenny.
Apart from his many incredible achievements as a swimmer, Kieran contributed over the years as a swim organiser and volunteer. He started the Lough Gill Swim with Paul McGarry and currently with a committee of 13 while raising over €185,000 for the North West Hospice.
The most accomplished and prolific marathon swimmer from Ireland between 1994 and 2008, Kieran also completed the Rottnest Channel Swim in Western Australia in a tandem swim while he completed the Lough Allen two-time swim twice.
Other swims completed by Kieran included the 10.6 mile Lough Erne (seven times), 11.2 mile Lough Gill (three times), 8 mile Innisbofin swim (twice), 7 mile Tory Island swim, 10.5 mile crossing of Lake Windermere in England as well as trips from Augrhis to Rosses Point and the seven mile Galway Bay swim.