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GILE: A moving documentary on the origins of The Annual Lough Gill Hospice Swim in Sligo.

Inspired by a conversation Paul Mc Garry had with his nephew Neill and the care Neill received under ‘The Northwest Hospice’ in 2009, Paul was prompted to organise an event to raise much-needed funds for the Hospice. This saw the beginning of the Lough Gill Hospice Swim. Since then, this event has seen hundreds of swimmers (many taking part on multiple occasions), commence the swim at Parkes Castle, Fivemilebourne, Co Leitrim and embark on the long, intense 10k endurance to the finish line at Doorly Park, Sligo.


Since its inception in 2009, the globally renowned Lough Gill Hospice Swim has raised in the region of €400,000 for the North West Hospice. This absorbing documentary captures the origins of the swim which centres around Neill McGarry’s journey with cancer and his untimely death, ‘one day before his 30th birthday’. The documentary has a particular focus on the unique, 2021-night swim called ‘Follow your Last Star’, named after a song penned by Neill himself. This event was aimed at sustaining momentum for the swim and vital fundraising for the North West Hospice during the pandemic.


In the documentary, Paul explains his connection with water, swimming and the lake. He draws parallels between this demanding and challenging swim and the person who embarks on their gruelling cancer journey. Neill’s death prompted Paul to have genetic testing, which revealed that he too has Lynch Syndrome, which causes, among others, colon cancer. Paul poignantly expresses his gratitude to Neill and his legacy for this insight and for giving him the opportunity to avail of important screening.


The viewer can deeply experience the emotional power of the documentary.  Throughout the documentary, the viewer can empathise with Paul’s deeply emotive story, as well as respond emotionally to the sheer beauty and joy of other scenes. It weaves layers of humanity. The film speaks a universal language, encouraging the feeling of connection between the subject matter and viewers.


Despite multiple media campaigns throughout the 13 years giving people a glimpse of the essence of this event, none have given viewers the true essence of the swim. GILE unveils the power of the human narrative. The camera bears witness to Paul’s raw grief, emotional pain and resilience. The delicate moments which capture Paul’s words, facial expressions, eye movement and tone of voice make this documentary natural, effortless and profoundly moving. The editing creates a delicate fusion of sound, words and synchronised movements. The filming precisely harnesses the motion of the swimmers. The unarguably, aesthetic beauty of the picturesque, historical Lough Gill lake, surrounded by woodlands and home to an eclectic mix of flora and fauna is vividly present in this work.


Since it’s launch on social media on August 27th, there has been an overwhelming response to the documentary with viewers predominantly commenting on its emotional impact. It is described as ‘Warm’, ‘Moving’, ‘Touching’, ‘Poignant’, ‘Emotive’, ‘Inspiring’, ‘Thought provoking’, ‘Heartfelt’, ‘Authentic’, ‘Powerful’, ‘Heart Wrenching’, ‘Humbling’, ‘Layers upon layers of meaning to this swim’, ‘A demonstration of love’ and ‘A piece of art’. GILE is a tribute to Neill McGarry and emanates profound grief, love, loss, family, memories and life challenges but above all resilience and hope!

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