06 Nov 2020
From wading into the wild Atlantic Ocean to slipping into a crystal clear mountain pool, there is nothing quite like a rejuvenating swim in Ireland’s open waters.
The rush of adrenaline, the invigorating cold water, the natural high – wild swimming is something special on the island of Ireland and the dazzling beauty of the surroundings can only bring the experience to the level of epic.
Open water swimming has grown in popularity around the country in recent years, with even visiting celebrities enjoying dips in the seas around the Emerald Isle.
Jodie Comer, who is best known for her iconic role as Villanelle in the hit TV series Killing Eve, recently enjoyed some vitamin sea at White Rocks Beach, south of Dublin, sharing a post-swim snap on Instagram, while Hollywood star Matt Damon, who was quarantined in nearby Dalkey for two months earlier this year, was spotted swimming the Irish waters several times during his stay.
The water temperature in Ireland sits somewhere between 16 and 18 degrees in summer. In late winter and early spring it drops to between 6 and 8 degrees, which some say offers an even more intense adrenaline rush. Swimming costume or wetsuit, the choice is yours, but you will find wild swimming spots all around the island that are nothing short of spectacular.
Carrickfinn Beach in County Donegal is a Blue Flag, extensive and secluded sandy beach backed by dunes and close to the beautiful Irish-speaking village of Annagry. Post-swim you can discover the culture and heritage of this unique region on Ireland’s famous the Wild Atlantic Way.
At Helen's Bay Beach on the edge of Belfast Lough, the excellent water quality makes it a popular spot for wild swimming. It’s one two first-rate beaches found on the edge of Crawfordsburn Country Park, County Down, where the wooded headlands, meadows, coffee shop, quality walks and good facilities make a lovely backdrop.
Strong swimmers will love the natural rock pool at Hook Head in County Wexford, beside Ireland's oldest working lighthouse. The rock pool forms at mid to high tide with the texture of a bubble bath. Make sure you try this one in calm conditions, and check out the lighthouse afterwards.
Game of Thrones® fans may recognise Ballintoy Harbour in County Antrim as the Iron Islands, but this quiet spot off the celebrated Causeway Coastal Route is also known for its clear waters. Park at the harbour and walk down to the fine stretch of golden sand for an invigorating swim. Then warm up with a bowl of Strangford mussels at the Fullerton Arms on Ballintoy’s Main Street.
The array of stimulating lake and river swims that can be found right across the Irish countryside is simply mind boggling. You can dive into the shimmering waters of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh or Lough Derg in County Clare, splash around in the River Barrow in County Carlow, or take a sunset swim at the magnificent Glendalough in County Wicklow, with its famous round tower and ancient monastic settlement setting the scene.
And wherever you go there will be plenty of options for après swim good food, good fun and traditional Irish culture.
Lough Derg, County Donegal
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