You don’t generally associate nudist colonies or access to nudist beaches with good old Roman Catholic Ireland. You will find them in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and many other enlightened countries in Europe but in Ireland, surely not? Anyway, the weather is terrible, you say. Who would want to take a skinny dip in Ireland? Well, a lot of people, actually. And the weather is completely irrelevant to those who like to swim or walk unencumbered by clothing. You don’t have to be in the sky-high temperatures of exotic places to have the comfort of being without clothes. The southwestern areas of Ireland, in particular, benefit from the mild climate provided by the Gulf Stream and are ideal spots for nudists.
Also note that the following small selection of locations are what are called “unofficial”. Does this mean that those who swim naked in these places are breaking the law? It is a very gray area. In the technical sense, perhaps there is a case for saying that decency laws are being violated. On the other hand, these areas are usually signposted and there is an unofficial “official” acceptance that allows designating and dedicating the existence of these particular beach areas to nudist use. In most cases, local authorities post signs for such areas anyway.
These are just a small selection of the most popular places in Ireland.
Silver Strand Beach, Barna, County Galway
To get here, take the Galway-Spiddal road (R336). About four miles from Galway, just past Barna Woods and a service station, there is a left turn signposted Silver Strand. About three hundred yards west of the main beach is a small beach that is regularly used by naturists. To get to the naturist area you have to walk for 15 to 20 minutes over the stones or the rough path behind the nearby wall. Peace and quiet and above all privacy are assured in a spectacularly beautiful setting that is close to the bustling and charming city of Galway.
Roundstone, County Galway
This beach is located in the beautiful Connemara area of County Galway where nature is at its most beautiful with stunning scenery comprising of rivers, beaches, lakes and mountains. To get there, you need to take the Galway – Clifden road from the city of Galway, also called the N59. Take the coast road (R341) towards Roundstone.
There is parking here and a primitive but adequate textile camp. Walk along the beach and take the short path up a small hill at the end of the bay. You will come to a door. Go through the gate and walk along the promontory for about 400 meters. There you will come to the beach in a charming sandy cove. Note that the cove is not visible until you are almost over it, making it a great setting for first-time naturists.
West Cork, County Cork
If ever one area lends itself to being a naturist’s paradise in Ireland, then it’s stunning West Cork in the south-west of Ireland. There are a dozen quiet, secluded coves on the eastern and western sides of Clonakilty Bay, for example, that are well-suited for naturism. Dunowen, also called Duneen, ends at a rocky cliff and is therefore very secluded and private. Further afield are Dunny Cove and Sands Cove. Further west again towards Glandore is the famous rocky Prison Cove. On the east side is a proper cove near the village of Ring. Turn right over the bridge in the village and follow the path along the coast with Inchydoney Island across the channel on the right. After a while, the path turns inland and uphill. Halfway up this hill there is a narrow path to your right that almost leads to a sheltered rocky cove that is a private facility and accepted for naturists.
Further along this hilly road is a sign for Simons Cove, which runs along the headland to the South Ring, where a small lane leads to the sea. The cove is protected by a reef, but it can be filled with stringy algae. The coasts of Roaring Water Bay and Lough Hyne, which is beyond Skibereen, along with the Beara Peninsula, have many deserted beaches which are accepted naturist areas.
Corballis, Donabate, County Dublin
Corballis is a sparse beach near the pretty village of Donabate in north County Dublin off junction 5 of the northbound MI motorway. The path from here leads to the town of Donabate with signs for the beach. Drive to the beach and park as far down as possible. Beware of soft sand. Walk further along the beach for 15-20 minutes. This area is known as Corballis and has long been used by naturists. Alternatively: Two miles down the road to Donabate, turn right at the sign for Island Golf Club and Corballis Golf Club. Continue for approximately 1.5 miles until you see a small green gate just before the entrance to Island Golf Club. Go through the gate and follow the path over the dunes until you reach the beach. Turn right and walk for 10-15 minutes. Peace and tranquility are assured and there is a long and respected naturist tradition in this area.
Brittas Bay in County Wicklow
Brittas Bay is probably one of the best naturist beaches on the east coast of Ireland. It is also an extremely popular camping and caravanning resort, frequented mainly by Dubliners escaping the capital at weekends and holiday periods. The main beach is a textile only area. The naturist beach is located almost two miles south of the main beach and is the most popular naturist beach in Ireland. It is long and sandy, backed by large dunes but with a stony strip between the dunes and the water (sandals recommended!).
Leave the main Dublin-Wexford M11 south motorway junction 7, nine miles south of Rathnew. Follow the signs for Jack White’s Cross and Pub. Keep on this path until you can go no further. Turn right and follow the shoreline for about 1¾ miles until you come to a collection of fir trees and gateposts marked Buckrooney at a road junction. At the intersection there is a small green gate. Go through the gate and follow the path to the naturist part of the beach. Once you are on the beach turn left and walk until you see fences in the dunes, past the 6th in a line of lifebuoys. Between the fence and the stream, beyond the beach, is the naturist area. You can swim, sunbathe and walk comfortably on the beach or in the dunes without problems or possible interruptions. However, as this is a very popular family resort, don’t venture outside the dedicated naturist area naked.
So who said that Ireland was a prissy country? Free speech is evolving all the time on the Emerald Isle and the beautiful De Valera country maidens who dance at the crossroads are long gone in the company of fairies and that surely isn’t a bad thing.
For more information on other nudist locations and practices in Ireland, see The Irish Naturist Association.