Forty Footers – Barry Delaney

Posted 2 weeks ago in Arts & Culture Features

The third of a trilogy through Hi-Tone Books, ‘Forty Footers’ sees Zurich portrait prize short-lister Barry Delaney turn his lens on his spiritual home. A daily swimmer in Dun Laoghaire, Delaney put this beautiful photography collection together over fifteen years.


What made you decide to do a project on the Forty Foot?

In the winter of 2005 I met a friend, Tim, for coffee in Dun Laoghaire. It was baltic, and he told me he was going for a swim at the 40 Foot. I was intrigued, and accompanied  him down to photograph any other winter swimmers.

There were maybe 5 swimmers when we got there, Tim was the first in the water, and they were the first swimmers I shot. At some point, he suggested cold water therapy for me and so began my now daily swimming.

The photographic project began slowly at first, but came to life in summers, particularly heatwaves like 2013 and 2018. Some of the photographs were being selected for various exhibitions and shows, including the RHA.

When my last picture of Tim got shortlisted for the Zurich portrait prize in 2022, that was the actual catalyst for the book.


How have you seen the response to having a picture taken over the years?

In the early days it was a lot easier. The advent of smartphones, Facebook and Instagram around 2011 made it much more challenging.

Perhaps one of my gifts as a photographer is being able to engage with people, communicating on the fly what a project is about.

A few folks refused outright. Which is completely ok, and it was very few. It has become more regular in today’s world.

I am relieved that the project is complete, now I can just enjoy my swimming.”

Words – Adhamh Ó Caoimh

Images – Barry Delaney

Forty Footers by Barry Deleaney, €30 from

Wanna read more? Stars and Souls of the Liffey – Barry Delaney


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