50 years of the life aquatic

Nov 18 2013 Posted by Office Administraton

In the gear bag: three or four pullovers, shirts and Army long johns. From the shoreline: swim out, invert and hold your breath.

When Mick Moriarty took up diving in Ireland, more than half a century ago, the best equipment and approach, he says, were what you had in your old dayshead.

“I’ve caught fish with a spear while holding my breath, and it certainly wasn’t off some island in the Pacific,” says Moriarty, a former Army officer. “When I began we had no such thing as access to rigid inflatable boats, never mind a car each to get there. We would just launch ourselves from the shore or rocks, wearing big lumpy woollen clothing, to give us the illusion of being warmer,” he says.

“But of course we weren’t, and it was awkward, and you were far worse off when you got out than if you had nothing on at all. We would get all the way down to 10m, or 35ft, for a few minutes, and it was wonderful, but it was very much a mental thing.”

Moriarty is a founder member of Comhairle Fo-Thuinn, the Irish Underwater Council, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. A fellow pioneer, Ronnie Hurley, now 80 and still active, clearly remembers his first dive with Moriarty, “in a lovely rocky cove” off Spanish Point in Co Clare.
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