Saturday, December 01, 2012

Forty Footsie

Bathing club at Forty Foot
swims against tide by
retaining ban on women

The above statement was a headline in this morning's Irish Times, which reported that the Sandycove Bathers’ Association, formed in about 1880, voted 24 to 17 not to allow women to join. That's a turnout of less than 20% of the membership, by the way.

The Forty Foot is a bathing place beside the Martello Tower which figures in the opening lines of James Joyce's Ulysses and in which he stayed for a brief few days.

The relatively secluded bathing place had traditionally been for men only and few, if any, wore togs. But then as women began to assert their rights to all sort of things, bathing became mixed and the only remaining relic of oul decency is the changing facilities owned by the club and available only to members.

So, as things stand, women, at least those who came by public transport, will have to change in the cold outdoors and risk having their gear nicked while they are in swimming.

The photo above is taken from the Battery (fort) which was an integral part of the Tower fortification. As they go, this battery was particularly large and, being situated on a small headland, its field of fire covered a very wide range, from Dún Laoghaire itself right round to Dalkey.

In the overlaid satellite image below, the yellow/green area is the Battery, the red area the Tower, and the blue area the bathing place. The orange area is the house built, and once owned, by the architect Michael Scott. One side of the house is curved in sympathy with the shape of the Tower.

Satellite overlay of fortification today

The military plan below shows the layout of the fortification when in use. You can click on it for a larger image and then click on that larger image again to enlarge to full size, which is the minimum readable size.

Military Plan of fortification 1862

And if you have an interest in these fortifications, don't forget to visit Martello Tower No. 7 on Killiney Hill Road, which fortification is unique in its situation and design, and which has been fully restored to its original state.

Update 14/3/2014

The club have now reversed their policy and voted to admit women as full members. The Irish Times this morning humorously put up on their Facebook page a photo taken in the past by one of their photographers, Paddy Whelan (RIP), and Facebook immediately took down the paper's page. When their Communities Editor, David Cochrane, produced a Times Togs Overlay, the page was restored. You can view the original photo here, but don't tell anyone.

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