On a sunny summer’s day, there is no place in Dublin I would rather be than the Forty Foot. Once a men-only nude bathing spot, now it’s open to everyone (‘the togs must be worn’ sign betrays its origins). James Joyce set the opening of Ulysses here, and described it as the ‘snotgreen scrotumtightening sea’. While I’m no expert, it is some of the coldest water you’ll find in Dublin, definitely not for the faint of heart. The water can be a bit choppy meaning nervous swimmers might want to give it a miss and go around the corner to Sandycove Harbour, but having a swim at the Forty Foot is a quintessential Dublin experience.
Local lore says that the name comes from the army garrison which once resided there, which had twenty members. Regardless, it is not forty foot deep and there are underwater rocks, so diving in is a very bad idea. In winter, you can stroll down for a visit after the People’s Park Market and watch the hardy winter swimmers doing their thing while you are wrapped in multiple layers. James Joyce’s tower overlooks the cove and has just reopened after an extensive restoration.
If you’re really brave, there is an annual Christmas morning swim with hot whiskey on offer for those courageous enough to take a dip.