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Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Victoria Baths: A Fascinating History

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Dun Laoghaire Baths
Source: HeyDublin

Dún Laoghaire Baths is a historic leisure site located in Dublin, Ireland. Built in 1843 to provide both fresh and salt water swimming for the wealthier citizens of Kingstown, now known as Dún Laoghaire, it has undergone many renovations and changes over the years.

In December 2022, after almost two decades of being closed to the public due to various delays, it will finally reopen its gates once again. With so much history associated with this place and so many exciting features planned for its reopening, there are plenty of reasons why visiting Dún Laoghaire Baths should be on everyone’s list when they come to Dublin!

Get a Bird’s Eye View of the Dun Laoghaire Baths

Dun Laoghaire Baths
Dun Laoghaire Baths 2
Dun Laoghaire Baths 3

📸 Source: HeyDublin 2022

Experience a Unique Piece of History at Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Victoria Baths

The Royal Victoria Baths in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, have a long, fascinating history.

Built in 1843, the baths were originally constructed to provide fresh and salt water swimming for the wealthy citizens of Kingstown, now known as Dún Laoghaire. In 1896, the baths were bought by the Kingston Urban District Council and renovated 1911. They were then known as Kingstown Baths (later Dún Laoghaire Baths) and were open to the public for swimming.

The 1930s saw further renovations, with three pools, 43 men’s boxes and 127 women’s boxes, a tearoom, a lounge and a laundry. With good facilities and moderate charges, it became a popular destination for tourists and day-trippers.

By the late 1990s however, the baths had closed and fallen into disrepair. In 2002, a voluntary community organisation, Save Our Seafront, was founded with the aim of restoring the baths to their former glory.

In 2005, the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council proposed a €140 million development plan for the site, including 180 apartments, shops, restaurants, an indoor pool and a maritime park. The plan was met with strong public opposition and was subsequently rejected by councillors. Other proposals in 2008 and 2010 also fell through.

Finally, in March 2015, plans were unveiled for a council development of the site, involving public space and a walkway, building renovation and a new jetty, albeit without baths. Separately, the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company proposed a €2.75 million ‘urban beach’ with a barge pool of heated, treated seawater. This proposal was eventually abandoned.

In 2017, Save Our Seafront welcomed the plans for the site, but ‘regretted the omission of the swimming baths requested by the public’. In April 2018, a contract was signed between the council and two joint builders, Siac and Mantovani, to redevelop the baths and public area. The project was expected to cost around €10 million and take under two years, opening in Spring 2020.

Unfortunately, the project was delayed when more than a million plastic shards were washed into Dublin Bay after small, thread-like fibres used to construct the new jetty failed to set. Work was halted for a three-month clean-up. The Covid-19 pandemic then caused further delays.

Dún Laoghaire Baths Dezember 2022 1
Dún Laoghaire Baths Dezember 2022 2

However, progress is now visible and in September 2021, a 3m bronze sculpture of Roger Casement was installed on a plinth at the end of the jetty, overlooking his birthplace. It is hoped that the Dún Laoghaire Baths will be fully opened to the public in December 2022.

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The budget for the construction project was originally estimated to be €13.4 million, but the final cost ended up being €18 million.

UPDATE: Yesterday (December 13th 2022) marks a historic moment as the Dún Laoghaire Baths have finally opened its doors to the public after 17 years of campaigning.

The final cost of the facility is an estimated €18 million, which was over budget from the original plan by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council at €13.5 million. The new facility will feature a 35-metre jetty along with built in seating, a changing shelter, toilet facilities and more!

To celebrate this milestone moment there was an official opening ceremony yesterday for locals to take part in. Amongst all these features, even a Roger Casement statue has also been added to commemorate his contribution towards Irish independence.

This makes it clear that this reopening is not just about fun but also celebrates history and heritage too!

WebsiteGoogle Maps
Address16 Windsor Terrace, Glasthule, Dublin 12
ServicePublic Place, Tourist Attraction
LocationsDún Laoghaire
Google Rating4.5 Stars out of 5
Total Reviews2+ (13/12/2022)
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