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Sea Swimmers Asked to Forego Forty Foot Christmas Day Dip

18th December 2020
The Forty Foot on Dublin Bay is a popular swim spot on Christmas Day The Forty Foot on Dublin Bay is a popular swim spot on Christmas Day

People are being asked to forego the annual Christmas Day swim at the Forty Foot in Sandycove on Dublin bay due to concerns over large groups of people gathering for the annual tradition.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, gardaí, and the Health Service Executive issued the appeal for people to refrain from visiting bathing areas, especially the 40 Foot in Sandycove and at Seapoint this year over the potential risk of spreading Covid-19 at these public gatherings.

In a joint statement, the council, gardaí, and the HSE acknowledged that winter swimming and especially the long-standing tradition of the Christmas Day swim have become increasingly popular in recent years in the area, with very large numbers of people of all ages gathering at bathing locations along the coastline.

In the statement, they said "it is only for this year and is being advised in the spirit of ensuring the safety of all our families and friends".

The statement goes on to say that they are "keenly aware that this is a very significant request being asked of people.

"We would not be asking this if we did not consider that a large gathering would create a potential risk to public health and the spread of Covid-19.

"Personal responsibility has been a significant part of our armoury in the fight against Covid-19 and we urge you to exercise it now and to avoid creating a crowded environment over Christmas at these traditional locations.

"We are appealing to the public to consider their wider communities and to please refrain from visiting these bathing areas this Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day".

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Forty Foot Swimming Spot on Dublin Bay

The 'Forty Foot' is a rocky outcrop located at the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for 300 years or more. It is popular because it is one of few spots between Dublin city and Greystones in County Wicklow that allows for swimming at all stages of the tide, subject to the sea state.

Forty Foot History

Traditionally, the bathing spot was exclusively a men's bathing spot and the gentlemen's swimming club was established to help conserve the area.

Owing to its relative isolation and gender-specific nature it became a popular spot for nudists, but in the 1970s, during the women's liberation movement, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters and now it is also open to everyone and it is in the control of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Many people believe that swimming in extremely cold water is healthy and good for the immune system.

Is it safe to swim at the Forty Foot?

The Forty-Foot is a great place to swim because there is always enough water to get a dip but like all sea swimming, there are always hazards you need to be aware of.   For example, a lot of people like to dive into to the pool at the Forty-foot but there are submerged rocks that can be hazardous especially at low water.  The Council have erected signs to warn people of the underwater dangers. Other hazards include slippy granite cut stone steps that can often be covered with seaweed and of course marine wildlife including jellyfish that make their presence felt in the summer months as do an inquisitive nearby Sandycove seal colony.

The Forty-foot Christmas Day swim

A Dublin institution that brings people from across Dublin and beyond for a dip in the chilly winter sea. Bathers arrive in the dark from 6 am and by noon the entire forty foot is a sea of red Santa hats!

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