In rather unexpected news, the big trend expected to hit Ireland this summer is swimming underwater – in a mermaid tail.
We didn’t see that one coming but the practice has already been embraced in other parts of the world.
The world’s first mermaid academy opened in the Far East and the Americans quickly caught on, followed by a number of European countries.
This summer, professional mermaids will be coming to Ireland for the first time. In fact mermaids have already been spotted in the University of Limerick pool.
Sarah Hartigan, lifeguard and swim co-ordinator at Limerick University, said: “Monofins are a bit of fun, people also use them for training. They’re flexible, but can be quite difficult to use, but really good for building up core strength, as you use a dolphin kick — one of our lifeguards here has one.”
The fins are available to buy online and cost around €40. Some people have bought them to go swimming with Dusty the Dolphin – a famous dolphin who has lived off the coast of Doolin, Co Clare for the last 15 years.
Diving instructor Feargus Callagy said: “People love the monofin, because it’s fun; some get the movement straight away, but others need more time to adjust. Kids also love the monofin, because they’ve a fascination with mermaids and being underwater.”
Mairead Kelly is a part-time professional mermaid. She set up her business ‘Merlesque’ two years go.
Mairead lives in the UK and also goes by her professional mermaid name ‘Ondine’. She has taken ‘mermaiding’ all over the UK but is looking forward to taking her classes to Ireland and rediscovering her Irish roots. A swim in the Atlantic is on her ‘to do’ list.
She said: “When I was a kid, I loved mermaids and swimming underwater and Irish fairy stories and mythology.”
While the monofins can provide a fun way to exercise and stay fit, some public pools in Ireland have raised concerns about safety.
Noel McCord of the Aqua Dome in Tralee said: “Our first mermaid tail on a child turned up recently. We’d never seen one before. The child looked lovely, but the legs are literally stuck together in the tail and we’d some concern about what if the child got into difficulty.
“We didn’t want to have the child in tears, but told the parent they had to be very, very vigilant, as the Dome is not a normal pool. There’s a lot going on with waves and currents.
“If tails are going to be a trend through the summer, we might have to look at this again.”
Take a look at the video below.