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Historic baths may be sunk by beach plan

THE future of the historic Dun Laoghaire baths hangs in the balance as the council considers a new 'urban beach' that could swallow up funding.

Built in 1843, the baths have been lying derelict since they were closed in 1997 when a proposal was made to develop a huge water complex on the site.

A public outcry about the proposed development was partly responsible for it never materialising, and the baths have been idle since with a large question mark over its future despite a recent paint job as part of the Dulux 'Let's Colour' project.

But plans for a new swimming area as part of the Dun Laoghaire harbour masterplan could scupper the baths' future.


These will be discussed by councillors today, with chief executive of the harbour company Gerry Dunne outlining the details of the 'floating swimming pool' within the harbour.

County manager Owen Keegan has said he would be recommending the council gives the green light to €1.5m towards the project, subject to planning permission and a capping of the council's financial exposure.

While there are plans to demolish the more unsightly elements of the old baths and refurbish the listed buildings within them, it is unlikely the facility will ever be used for bathing purposes again.

"A plan has been drawn up to do an intense clean-up and knock some of the derelict parts and use the rubble to make a walkway on a couple of different levels," Fine Gael councillor Patricia Stewart told the Herald.

"The funding has been agreed but it is an interim plan that has to be approved, but it would see the amenity of the tearooms being restored."

The first public swimming baths at Dun Laoghaire originally date from the 1790s but they were removed in 1836 when the railway line was built.

In 1843 the new Royal Victorian Baths were built beside Scotsman's Bay. Dun Laoghaire became of the best and most popular places in Ireland to bathe as a result.

There was a range of bathing options including sea and fresh water, hot and cold baths, and children had their own pond and paddling pools.

The new plan for the 'urban beach' forms part of a bigger €230m project which includes a diaspora museum on the Carlisle pier, retail units, and 300 apartments on St Michael's Pier, and a new marina and berthing facility to accommodate cruise liners.