Mags To Bring Irish Pride To Russia’s Frozen North

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Manager of the Aqua Dome, Mags O'Sullivan is off diving in Russia for ten days. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Manager of the Aqua Dome, Mags O’Sullivan is off diving in Russia for ten days. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

DIVING into freezing ice cold Russian waters inside the Arctic Circle wouldn’t be most people’s idea of a holiday, but Caherslee woman, Mags O’Sullivan will do exactly that when she heads east for adventure on Friday.

She will be part of a group of eight Irish divers who will hold what is thought to be the first ever St Patrick’s Day Parade on Russia’s frozen White Sea.

“It will be a small parade!” Mags O’Sullivan told us on Wednesday. “We are going to dress up and put flags on top of the snowmobiles and I’m sure we’ll get a few Russians involved as well.”

“We’re really hoping we will see green aurora borealis St Patricks night to make it very special,” she said.

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Mags is taking part in an ice diving speciality course. Over the course of five days she will make ten 30 metre dives into water between -1° and -2° for 30 and 40 minutes wearing a dry suit.

Because of the high salt content of the water it doesn’t freeze solid. For a dive to take place a hole must be cut in the ice shelf which can be up to five feet thick.

Mags, who is manager of the Aqua Dome, she has been diving for 25 years and previously was a diving instructor at WaterWorld in the Maherees.

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Of the eight Irish people heading off, Mags will be the only Kerry person with all the rest hailing from Dublin. The journey to The White Sea will take her two days in total.

The average temperature above the ice on The White Sea in March is -10° but it can reach -30°.  While down below, the divers will explore reefs, the biology of the White Sea and shipwreck sights.

Because of the lack of visibility through the ice, daytime dives are considered night dives. A high beam torch will help Mags navigate her and a companion through the deep.

With a team of four, dives will be done in pairs. While two are diving, the other two will be above the ice tendering a rope down so they can find their way back to the hole in the ice.

“It will be challenging, it will be quite physical and I suppose with the severe elements of the cold air and the ice it will make it a little bit more difficult,” said Mags. “You have to go to these remote places to appreciate the natural beauty of our planet and environment.”

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