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A New Year’s Day proposal

Living

TAKING THE PLUNGE Vin Egan braved more than the elements on New Year’s Day when he got down on one knee and proposed to Kerry Sled. Pics: Mike Head and Edward Gielty

Edwin McGreal

Vin Egan learned how to swim in Dugort, so it was fitting he returned to his mother’s home village for the biggest plunge of his life.
And that plunge wasn’t the famous Achill New Year’s Day Swim either, challenging and all as the ice-cold Atlantic might be.
No, a matter of minutes before the whistle sounded to send hundreds of brave swimmers into the ocean, Vin Egan got down on one knee and proposed to his partner of six years, Kerry Sled.
The answer was an emphatic ‘Yes’ and their friend, Mike Head, was on hand to capture the special moment with his camera.
There was no time for waiting around though. A quick interview with The Mayo News had to be cut short as the whistle sounded and 15 members of the extended Egan family took off for the cold water, Vin and his new fiancée among them.
Never have we seen a woman run so fast from a proposal spot, but Vin Egan had nothing to fear. The whole day was a memorable conclusion to an emotive trip.
The Egan family were in Achill to honour the memory of three of their clan who passed away in 2018 and 2019 – Vin’s paternal uncle, Flann Egan from Roundstone in Connemara, and his maternal aunts, Bridgie Cafferkey and Anne Baldwin from Dugort East, Achill Island.
They’ve raised £1,300 and counting for the RNLI, and moments before the proposal, they also proposed a toast, drinking – aptly – a shot of Egan’s Irish Whiskey.
It was all part of a multi-layered plan by Venantius (Vin) Egan.
“It was my first time doing the swim. It was like a bucket-list thing to do it. I’m back and forth to Achill for 58 years, all my life so I thought it was time to do it.
“All my family were there to remember three members of our family, and my plan was to surprise Kerry, but nobody else knew.
“We had a shot to toast Flann, Bridgie and Anne, and it was after that I proposed. I couldn’t do it after the swim, we would all be too cold! So I think I picked my moment well. The whole trip was a very personal family thing,” Vin Egan told The Mayo News.
His late mother, Kate Cafferkey, was from Dugort East, and Vin spent most of his childhood summers in Achill. It is a place which clearly means a lot to him.
“I’m 58 and I’ve been coming over since I was a baby. You’d come over and save the hay, do the fishing and hitch a ride back home. My parents would be in England, and I’d come over for the full summer.
“I swam in the Silver Strand many times but would have done more swimming in the other beach in Dugort, Golden Strand, which would have been where I learned to swim when I was younger,” recalls Vin.
Raised in Liverpool, Vin Egan now lives in Lincoln with Kerry, a native of Portsmouth. Members of the Egan family came from all over England while two of Kerry’s family were convinced by Vin to travel from Spain.
All thought there was a singular reason for the trip, but Vin had other plans.
It was clear to see when speaking to Kerry on the beach that she was overwhelmed, in the best possible sense.
But there was no time to wait around – the cold Atlantic was waiting… though the warm glow they were both feeling no doubt served as useful insulation.