There's a sight you will see in Ireland that you won't see elsewhere: diving boards! Authors Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge guide us to their top 5
The Irish are known for their welcoming spirit and their love of the outdoors. The tradition of outdoor swimming is held up by many well into their later years and all around the country groups gather together at beaches, rivers and loughs. It is these very folks who have managed to form a strong community and hold on to something very precious; their diving boards. All too many public outdoor boards have been removed but in Ireland a smattering around the country remain. All these sites can be found on wildswim.com, with direct links below.
A short drive north of Dublin City the pretty coastal town of Howth sees youths now banned from jumping off the pier, reclaiming an old diving haunt along the coastal path. Here they turn from the path, cross a vertiginous staircase and plunge into the deep clear water to swim the short distance to a rocky islet where old concrete plinths mark the place where boards used to permanently sit. Now the boards are replaced each summer with a temporary solution, cantilevered out with great weighted bags and straps holding the boards firm.
2. NEWTOWN AND GUILLAMENE
In the South of the country in County Waterford, Newtown and Guillamene Swimming Club have recently replaced their diving boards. Despite the local council wanting to remove said boards, the club won the argument that in order to keep the younger generation safe the solution would not be to ban diving but to teach them how to dive safely! Guillamene now runs an annual outdoor diving competition.
3. POLLOCK HOLES
Along the West coast in County Clare, near the intriguing Pollock Holes, there is a tiny gap in the wall of the coastal road leading to a curved stairway. Passing signs of; diving prohibited / unsafe, the steps lead down to two newly refurbished boards which strain out along the side of the cliff and over the deep water below.
4. BLACKROCK DIVING TOWER
Further up the West coast at in Salthill, Galway, the residents have a proud diving tradition at Blackrock Diving Tower. Quotes from the poet, Seamus Heaney, are imbedded along the promenade leading to the Tower and to jump from the high board is seen as a rite of passage. The last day of term sees school-leavers flocking to leap from this dual aspect board casting off the ties of their uniforms, the ultimate display of freedom.
5. DUNSEVERICK HARBOUR
In Northern Ireland many boards have been removed but there are still plenty of places for pier and rock jumping, not far from the famous Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is the pretty Dunseverick Harbour and Slough. The Slough is where families come to jump and dive from varying heights of rocks into this deep inlet on the rugged North Sea coastline.
'Most of these boards sport signage such as; “Diving not recommended / Dangerous / At your own risk” yet, let us celebrate our traditions, the thrill of danger is precisely what draws us to fling ourselves from the heights,' says Maureen.
- Wild Swimming in Ireland: Discover 50 Places to Swim in Rivers, Lakes & the Sea by Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge can be bought on Amazon, at bookstores, directly from the author’s webpage or Collins Press.