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06 July 2012

Like a fish to water, 80 year-old Limerick man still scuba-diving

Anne Sheridan -

The oldest scuba-driver in Limerick won’t let age stop him from plunging to the darkest depths of the ocean, after celebrating his 80th birthday.

A founder member of Limerick Sub Aqua Club, Ronnie Hurley, from the North Circular Road, is believed to be the oldest scuba-diver in Limerick and possibly the country.

To celebrate his 80th birthday and pay honour to his life-long service to the club, fellow members threw him a surprise party in the Locke Bar recently, much to his initial embarrassment.

“Ronnie is a real Limerick hero. He is a fantastic, inspiring figure. He is without a doubt admired throughout the whole club and further afield,” said Mike Orth, chairman of the club, which Ronnie helped establish in 1960.

After 52 years of scuba-diving he continues to serve as an inspiration to others whose life’s passion is to swim at the bottom of the dark, blue sea.

“When I started diving in my 20s I wanted to boast that I’d dive into my 80s. Now, I only dive in good conditions, when the water is warm and there’s plenty of fish life.

Back then I’d dive every weekend, and would curse the weather if it wasn’t right.

Now I think the odd time ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to be diving today’,” he told the Limerick Leader.

Now, as his agility and hearing is not what it once was, he is grateful to his fellow club members, who assist him with his air tank, and watch out for speed boats as he comes to the surface.

He can’t just hop off the boat and dive into the water, he says.

“I need help putting on my gear and my fins.

I’m a bit stiff. I’m not an invalid but I have to be helped. Age is relative.

I don’t look at myself as an 80-year-old diver, but I’m lucky people put up with me,” said Ronnie, who is affectionately known by his friends as ‘Old Grouchy’.

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