Documentary on One

Fire and Water

By day, Feargus Callagy fits fireplaces; by night, he dreams of diving deep underwater on a single breath of air - Feargus is a freediver, and he's on a mission to get more Irish people into the ocean.

Fire and Water

Feargus diving off Mullaghmore, Co Sligo
Feargus diving off Mullaghmore, Co Sligo

Feargus Callagy can hold his breath for five minutes. He can dive to depths of over 40m on a single breath. Yet when he tells people he is a freediver, they say 'Huh?

Freediving is the art, sport or science of holding one's breath underwater. It can refer to mavericks barrelling down to record depths, or ordinary men and women who dive simply to enjoy the sensation of swimming underwater in absolute silence. Beyond the 1988 movie, The Big Blue, however, few have heard of it.

So why does Feargus freedive? Why risk the dangers? What does it feel like to be so free underwater? And is there really anything to see off Ireland's cold Atlantic coast?

'Fire & Water' tells the unlikely story of how a plain-talking man went in search of a new passion in life, and found it holding his breath underwater.

This 30-something Sligo man struggled with his weight, before learning to control his heartbeat and fill his lungs to degrees that stun medical experts today. He fits fireplaces and stoves by day, but spends his free time attempting to build a pioneering business - Freedive Ireland - entirely from scratch.

We follow Feargus as he travels from Sligo to Sharm El Sheikh, the Egyptian Red Sea resort, to meet his free-diving heroes and attempt a personal record 50m dive. That's as deep as an Olympic swimming pool is long, not forgetting the swim back to the surface again.

The Documentary on One is there as Feargus swaps forklifts and fireplaces to swim with a manta ray, as he teaches students breath-hold techniques, as his heartbeat is monitored in hospital, as he swims with his daughter, reveals the dangers of blacking out, clears his sinuses with a bizarre 'netty pot', and attempts one of the deepest freedives ever undertaken by an Irishman.

Will he make the depth? Can he build the business? Fire & Water is an intimate portrayal of an Irish freediver following his unlikely dream.

Produced and narrated by Pól Ó Conghaile
Production supervision by Sarah Blake
Sound supervision by Anton Timoney

First broadcast: July 28th 2012 @2pm

'Documentary on One is the home of Irish radio documentaries and the largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere in the world. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish ones, and each documentary tells its own story'

For more on Freedive Ireland, see www.freediveireland.com.
For more on Pól Ó Conghaile, see www.poloconghaile.com.

(RTÉ is not responsible for the content of external sites)


Documentary Maker: Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile
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Documentary maker: Sarah Blake

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