My brother Sean will turn 51 this month. Whenever the opportunity presents itself he leaps off the wall of the pier in Knightstown on Valentia Island. It is the Atlantic we´re talking about here and, even in high summer, the sensation of jumping into deep water is something like having your balls rapidly immersed into a flask of liquid nitrogen.

He points out that he is about the only guy of his age who is crazy enough to do this. All the other leapers seem to be kids who, by virtue of limited experience of life, might be counted on to be this stupid. Or the people who jump in wearing wetsuits, which in the eyes of the true-bred masochist, is a kind of cheating.

When I was in Valentia last there was only one older guy who leapt in as well. That was me. I did it under duress mainly because I felt guilty after having dropped his fishing gear over the side of his kayak earlier in the day. His 10 weight rod and reel and line drifted silently through the darkening column of water to be embraced by waving arms of kelp and we knew we would never see them again. After such a monumental fuck up I certainly needed to endure some kind of penance and the icy Atlantic would see to that.

So the reason for my pier jump was pretty plain but what about Sean´s? What makes him jump off the pier?

Maybe jumping allows you to capture one of life´s finest if most fleeting moments. It lasts maybe a second, certainly no more. In this time you shake off your connection with the earth and belong very briefly to the sky.  The moment is like frozen frame in a movie projection. Time freezes and then every part of your body does the same.

Moments like this are worth something and Sean knows this. He reckons we should´t be in too much of a hurry to grow up.

What´s there to lose?

Your balls will thaw eventually.


Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 20.35.26

I didn´t get a photo of Sean´s jump but here is his daughter Molly enjoying that ephemeral moment. My own daughter Pippa is holding the rail. She will be the next to go. Notice that everyone is wearing wetsuits? Wonder why?