From smoking to skydiving, it’s pretty remarkable how so many of us knowingly engage in activities that have quite a strong chance of shortening our lives.
Which is pretty much what a bunch of teenage kids are indulging in with alarming regularity down at the new Greystones marina.
Whatever about the dangers inherent in jumping into water with no idea of what lies beneath – much jagged debris is still being cleared out of the harbour waters – the latest craze for these local kids is timing their dives so they just miss an oncoming boat. Positioning themselves at the mouth of the marina, on the rounds, the kids are playing chicken right at the busiest junction. This is the fairway – the only way in and out of the marina for the boats.
Given just how big some of these boats are that are now docking in Greystones, the monstrous propellers could easily turn anyone playing the game of chicken into chicken paté in a matter of seconds.
Meat versus metal? No contest.
It’s enough to give Bernard Gallagher, the harbour master down in Greystones, some sleepless nights. With over 40 years experience – having formed BJ Marine back in 1975, and subsequently working harbours in his native Donegal, Dun Laoghaire and now Greystones – this old sea dog has never come across such a worrying trend as this.
“It’s gotten so out of hand over the last few weeks that we actually had to lock the jetty for a day,” he explains. “That’s something that we really don’t want to do, as it’s a beautiful walk for people, and we’re so happy to see everyone coming and going down here. But, we’ve had twenty near-misses in the last month. And it has now gotten to the point where we aren’t just worried for these kids’ safety but our own too…” It was when pointing out the dangers of diving in the marina to a group of almost twenty teenagers (“the numbers are growing all the time”) last Friday that Bernard and his assistant, James, were threatened. A call to the Gardaí merely saw the kids make their escape by ducking out by the North Beach entrance. A mother with a buggy expressed her shock at how aggressive the kids had been.
“This is a simple matter of life and death here,” continues Bernard. “I myself nearly had a boy land on my boat earlier this week – he missed me by just a few feet. The trouble is, part of the thrill of this new game is their not knowing where the oncoming boat is. The running distance across such a high platform means that they’re basically jumping into the water blind.
“It’s only a matter of time before something tragic happens…”
And that’s something that Bernard Gallagher and his staff down at Greystones’ marina just don’t want to see happen. But, what to do? Kids in packs, doing something illegal, tend to turn nasty when confronted, as Bernard and co well know. And closing the jetty to the public would certainly be an unpopular move.
“The only real hope is that the parents intervene,” finishes Bernard. “We don’t have the power to discipline these kids, so, we can only hope that the mothers and fathers can recognise the danger their kids are putting themselves in here. These are teenagers from all over Greystones – from The Burnaby, Windgates, wherever – and it would be heartbreaking to see any one of them lose everything just to show off in front of their mates.
“It only takes a second, and then life for that entire family will never be the same again…”
This particular brand of stupidity isn’t new, of course. Here’s anarticlefrom June, 2011 on Lifeguards Ireland’s website.
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