One does not 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 European countries but in Ireland, surely no? Anyway the weather is terrible, you say. Who would want to go skinny-dipping in Ireland? Well quite a lot of people, actually. And the weather is completely irrelevant to those who like to swim or walk without the impediments of clothing. You do not have to be in sky-high temperatures of exotic locations to have the comfort of being without clothes. Areas of the south west of Ireland, in particular, benefit from the benign climate provided by the Gulf Stream and makes for ideal nudist locations.
Bear in mind as well that the following small selection of locations are what are termed as “unofficial”. Does this mean that those swim nude in these locations are breaking the law? It is a very grey area. In the technical sense, perhaps there is a case to say that decency laws are being broken. On the other hand, these areas are usually signposted and there is an unofficial “official” acceptance that allows the existence of these areas of particular beaches to be designated and dedicated to nudist use. In most cases, signposts for such areas are erected by the local authorities anyway.
These are just a small selection of the most popular spots in Ireland.
Silver Strand Beach, Barna, County Galway
To get here take the Galway-Spiddal road (R336). About four miles from Galway, just beyond Barna Woods and a filling station, there is a turn to the left signposted Silver Strand. About three hundred yards to the west of the main beach there is a small beach which is regularly used by naturists. To get to the naturist area, walk for 15 or 20 minutes along the stones or on the rough path behind the wall nearby. Peace and quiet and, most of all, privacy are assured in a spectacularly beautiful setting that is close to the buzzing and lovely City of Galway.
Roundstone, County Galway
This beach is in the beautiful Connemara area of County Galway where nature is at its most beautiful with stunning scenery comprising rivers, beaches lakes and mountains. To get there you need to take the Galway – Clifden road from Galway City also called the N59. Turn off onto the coast road (R341) to Roundstone.
There is parking and a primitive but adequate textile camping site here. Walk the length of the beach and take the short path up a small hill at the end of the bay. You will come to a gate. Go through the gate and walk across the headland for about 400 yards. There you will come upon the beach in a delightful sandy cove. Please note that the cove is not visible until you are nearly upon it which makes it a great setting for naturists in the first place.
West Cork, County Cork
If ever an area lends itself to being a paradise in Ireland for naturists then it is the stunning West Cork in the south west of Ireland. There are a dozens of quiet and secluded coves on the eastern and western sides of Clonakilty Bay, for example, which are very suitable for naturism. Dunowen, also called Duneen ends at a rocky cliff and is therefore very secluded and private. Further out are Dunny Cove and Sands Cove. Further west again, towards Glandore is the famous rocky Prison Cove. On the eastern side there is a suitable cove near the village of Ring. Turn right over the bridge in the village and follow the road along the coast with Inchydoney Island across the channel on the right. After a while the road turns inland and uphill. Half way up this hill is a narrow lane on your right which leads almost to a sheltered rocky cove that is an accepted and private facility for naturists.
Further along this hilly road is a sign for Simons Cove which is along the headland to South Ring where a small lane leads to the sea. The Cove is protected by a reef but can be thick with stringy seaweed. The shores of magnificently named Roaring Water Bay and Lough Hyne, which is past Skibereen, together with the Beara peninsula have many deserted beaches that are accepted naturist areas.
Corballis, Donabate, County Dublin
Corballis is a scattered beach near the pretty village of Donabate in north County Dublin at exit 5 on the MI motorway going north. The road from this leads to Donabate village with signposts for the beach. Drive onto the beach and park as far down as possible. Beware of soft sand. Walk further down the beach for 15 to 20 minutes. This area is known as Corballis and has been long used by naturists. Alternatively: Two miles down the road to Donabate turn right at the signpost for the Island Golf Club and Corballis Golf Club. Continue for about 1½miles until you see a small green gate just before the entrance to the Island Golf Club. Walk 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 quiet are assured and there is a long and respected tradition for naturists in this area.
Brittas Bay in Co. 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 mostly frequented by Dubliners escaping the capital at weekend 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 are recommended!).
Turn off the main Dublin-Wexford M11 south motorway junction7, nine miles south of Rathnew. Follow the signpost fort Jack White’s Cross and Pub. Go down this road until you can go no further. Turn right and follow the coast for about 1¾miles until you come to a collection of fir trees and gateposts marked Buckrooney at a road junction. At the junction there is a small green gate. Walk 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 fencing up on the dunes past the sixth in a line of lifebuoys. Between the fencing and the stream further along the beach is the naturist area. You can swim, sunbathe and walk around in comfort on the beach or in the dunes without fuss or possible interruption. However, as this is a very popular family resort, do not venture nude outside the dedicated naturist area.
So who said Ireland was a prissy country? Freedom of expression is evolving all the time in the Emerald Isle and De Valera’s comely country maidens dancing at the crossroads are long gone in company with the fairies and that surely is no bad thing!
For more information on other nudist locations and practices in Ireland, check out The Irish Naturist Association.