DUN LAOGHAIRE 8 JANUARY 2023
After an almost twenty year local campaign Dún Laoghaire baths reopened as a public amenity in December 2022 but without a pool. Apparently a rectangular concrete void has been left below the surface of the amphitheatre and will allow for the inclusion of a tidal pool in future works.
My birthday was on New Years day and my brother had organised a party for me at his home not far from Scotsman’s Bay and I had planned to photograph the recently refurbished baths while I was in the area. Unfortunately, on the last day of 2022, my brother and his wife discovered that they had contracted Covid so my visit to Dun Laoghaire as well as my birthday party was cancelled and I did not get an opportunity to visit until today.
When I arrived the first thing that caught my attention was the number of dogs and I mention this because three dogs jumped over a wall into the water without knowing what was on the other side. One owner was very distressed but the dog survived and did not appear to be in any way distressed. The other two dogs were on leads and did not hit the rocks and were easily recovered.
Two separate bathing areas existed in, what is now, Dun Laoghaire in the 1790s. Baths were built by the Royal Hotel in 1828 but were removed to make way for the construction of the railway in 1836.
In 1843, John Croswaithe built baths on the corner of Scotsman’s Bay. Originally known as the Royal Victorian Baths, they were only used by those who had the means to afford them. This is the site of today’s Dun Laoghaire baths.
Victoria Baths were public baths on Queens Road. Over the years, they had a number of different configurations. They provided salt-water or fresh water baths, baths for swimming or baths for washing or “turkish” baths for cleansing the pores, hot, cold, or tepid baths, individual or shared baths. In their last configuration as Rainbow Rapids in the 1980s, they provided water slides and other ways of enjoying the water.
Restoration Works at the Dun Laoghaire Baths were substantially completed on 2nd December 2022. Works included the retention and securing of the existing Baths Pavilion and the removal of dilapidated structures to the rear of the Pavilion to create a new route between Newtownsmith and the East Pier. This walkway is at a level that provides a safe and secure walk offering panoramic views over Scotsman’s Bay.
The walkway features sitting and viewing points and the land adjoining this walk has been be regraded to create sloping grassed areas.
The long derelict Baths Pavilion together with a smaller outbuilding was retained, weathered and secured while the remaining dilapidated outbuildings to the rear and side of the Pavilion were removed.
The original Baths entrance along Windsor Terrace was restored to provide access. An outdoor ‘café terrace’ linked to the new café will provide an attractive sitting area for viewing eating and relaxing.