40 Foot (Forty Foot)

by | 5 Jul 2019 | Dublin

The 40 Foot

July 2009 Is this Ireland’s most famous swimming spot? Dubliners probably think it is. Immortalised in James Joyce’s Ulysses (although we can’t recall ever seeing snot green se there) and loved by generations of the city’s swimmers, the Forty Foot is a Dublin institution. For most of its time the Forty Foot was a men only spot, where the male of the species could strip off in peace without being bothered. Eventually that changed (was it 15-20 years ago?) and now men and women, young and old, swim there, although there is a secluded part around the side where men still congregate and women rarely venture. The entrance still has the men only sign, but this is just a left over from a thankfully forgotten era. The great advantage of the Forty Foot is its depth, so you can always jump in even at low tide. It’s a great place to swim, with its clean deep waters. While people dive in from the nearby rocks it is dangerous and you should  heed the many warning signs which are obviously there for a reason. This is, of course, a place for year round swimmers and in the depth of a freezing winter all you are allowed to admit to is the water being ‘a bit nippy’; wimps need not apply. Although we must admit to being envious on a recent winter visit where a swimmer emptied his hot water bottle over himself after his icy dip.  It is also the place where hundreds of people congregate on Christmas Day for an annual plunge. The whole area is nicely maintained, with a changing area, and is a great credit to the Sandycove Bathers Association who keep it so well. The 40 Foot is accessible for buggies, but there are a few steps which prevent wheelchairs. Directions View Larger Map The best way to travel from Dublin city is by DART getting off at the Sandycove / Glasthule stop. From there it’s a 10- 15 minute walk and directions will be easily got.

The Irish Naturist Association says...

This was for many years a traditional male only naturist bathing place. It is still predominantly, but no longer exclusively, used by men. It is situated just outside the town of Dun Laoghaire, 8 miles south of Dublin. In Dun Laoghaire follow the signposts for the harbour. Continue along the coast road until you come to the Martello Tower. The Forty Foot is nearby. It is used by naturists only in the early morning. 

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1 Comment

  1. Mar

    The Forty Foot was in its origin a women bathing place. This changed with the train that made easier for Dubliners to come.
    The Forty Foot is private property with two owners. When the place became popular, the council demanded make the place safer for the swim and swimmers. The users joined in a bathing association and leased the Forty Foot for a symbolic amount. This association was only men and at that time, bathing in the sea it was the way to keep yourself clean. This is the reason of nude.
    In the 70’s the women made a protest because they wanted to swim in the Forty foot as everyone else not member of the bathing association. Women followed the rules of nudity. It can be seen in the rte archives.
    This protest and the demands of the women was found scandalous for the good men of the association who turned to the owner to put order and such indecency, men and women bathing together nude. The landlady just said – if I have to make a decision about only men or only women, which one do you think I will be? – The association allowed women in but with a lot of resistance, harassment, intimidation, bullying. Nudity in the Forty Foot is perceived as demonstration against children and women in there ! And it is forbidden by the landlady, who still alive.
    The bathing association had a resistance group of members that not allowed the women being members. The last time they voted against women joining the association, it happened two unexpected things. The women saying – oh ! That is great news ! I am enjoying it by free. The second consequence was the insurance. The insurance refused to renew because of the recent voting banning women from membership.
    The council stepped in to avoid the closure of the place. The council only provides the public liability. The land remains private and the lease active. When this happens, the place was vandalized by people. Many signage and information birds were pulled out. On the photo, it can be seen there were something at the top. On the photo you see the board pre 1970’s when the landlady told to the association – which gender do you think I will pick up, if I have to make a decision!?


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