GAA personalities join forces to support Respect the Water

Famous faces help share the RNLI’s Float to Live message.

GAA personalities join forces to support the RNLI's Respect the Water campaign

RNLI/Valerie O'Sullivan

GAA personalities Marty Morrissey and Anthony Daly with local GAA players at Kilrush RNLI

The RNLI is partners with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) – the largest sporting body in Ireland. Volunteers from both organisations are committed to sharing the RNLI’s safety advice; delivering hundreds of talks to young people across Ireland to help people stay safe in the water. 

This year, famous faces from the GAA have come together to promote the Respect the Water campaign, to help reach people all over Ireland with our Float to Live message.

GAA presenter and commentator Marty Morrissey and hurling legend Anthony Daly joined young players from GAA Clubs in County Clare earlier this week, to raise awareness of Respect the Water and encourage young people to enjoy the water safely. 

Both Marty and Anthony have personal reasons for backing the partnership and becoming ambassadors for the campaign. Below, they share why Respect the Water means so much them.  

Marty Morrissey – ‘I had the fear’ 

Marty Morrissey’s home place is in the picturesque fishing village of Quilty in West Clare on the Wild Atlantic Way, where the sea has always been part of everybody’s life. As a result, Marty loves the water but is also aware of its dangers. Although he attempted to learn how to swim as a child, he never quite got over his fear. 

This was reinforced in recent months when he was filming a survival sequence in the recent TV hit Marty and Bernard’s Big Adventure. When he had to enter a lake for the programme, Marty found that his old fears quickly returned. 

Marty says: 

‘When I was young boy growing up in Quilty, my bedroom literally looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean. I remember that every 13 seconds the light from the lighthouse on the Aran Islands shone in my window. I would paddle in the water and some of my friends would jump into the water back at the pier in Seafield, but I wouldn’t, I had the fear.'

‘I want to get over that and I’ve set myself the challenge to learn properly. It is so important because after all, we all live on the island of Ireland and water plays such an important part of our lives. I am from a fishing village, so well aware of the dangers of the sea.’

Speaking on the importance of the partnership, Marty continues: 

‘I think the RNLI and the GAA are interlinked in many ways. They are both about community. I love the water and I respect it. If we can get more people enjoying it safely and raising awareness so that no family has to go through the pain of losing a loved one, then I see that as a win. We’ve had too many tragedies in this country. I’m looking forward to the day that I can go for swim and enjoy the water.’

Anthony Daly – ‘we can never stop banging the drum’

Anthony Daly lost his good friend Michael Scanlan, affectionately known as Fondi, to drowning many years ago. Fondi was a long-standing kit man at his beloved Clarecastle GAA club and drowned while out fishing. 

Speaking about the tragedy Anthony says: 

‘Everyone knew and loved Fondi. He was from a big family where I grew up. He was a great GAA man and came from a strong fishing background. When word came to the village that Fondi was lost there was a rush to the quay to help. We spent the week walking the banks and we wouldn’t go to training while the search was ongoing. He was found the following Sunday at the River Fergus and while it was a blessing for the family, his loss has been deeply felt by everyone who knew him.’

Anthony swims in the sea every week and has made sure his daughters can swim too. Commenting on the campaign he says: 

‘The RNLI is a great organisation for the GAA to be involved with in local communities. I think there is an awareness of water safety, but we can never stop banging the drum. I love the water and I want my daughters to love the water too and not fear it. Anything we can do to raise awareness of the risks of drowning and to share water safety advice, can only be a good thing.’

What’s next for the GAA and Respect the Water?

The RNLI will be present at Croke Park on Sunday 28 July to promote the Respect the Water campaign during the GAA All-Ireland Hurling Senior Championship semi-final to share the RNLI’s water safety messages with thousands of fans. 

RNLI volunteers will be on the pitch at half-time to share the Float to Live message, so keep your eyes peeled for pictures after the event. 

As Anthony says - we can never stop banging the drum, so if you haven’t shared the RNLI’s Float to Live message yet, what are you waiting for?