Corbally Baths – Pictured at the Baths are Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, Mark Dempsey and John Ryan of Limerick Narwhals.
Petition for the revival of the beloved Corbally Baths
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Dylan Frawley
A petition for the restoration of the Corbally Baths is calling for the City Council to commit to clean up the baths to revive this famous old natural swimming location. The campaign was spearheaded by Limerick Irish Ice Swimming Internationals, John Ryan, and Mark Dempsey, who both competed at the Ice Swimming World Championships in Russia in 2019, with John winning silver and bronze medals. Both men are members of Limerick Narwhals, a group of swimming enthusiasts that swim in icy waters all year round in Limerick city and county.
A new Limerick City and County Council study was the start of a formal process for the revival of this landmark public swimming amenity which generations of Limerick people enjoyed. The study involves the recently appointed water and environmental consultants, JBA Consulting, carrying out a technical assessment of the current situation, including water quality to advise on costed feasible remedial solutions and/or investigate works where applicable.
Corbally Baths are renowned for the impact it had in Limerick in the early 1950s, as it was a communal place for people to come together, swim and relax.
The swimming pool consisted of two children’s paddling pools, a small drinking foundation, changing rooms, bathrooms, a shop and the main swimming area, the Shannon River.
Since the 1990s, the Corbally Baths have fallen into disrepair, which resulted in the recent petition for the old amenity to be brought back to provide Limerick with an alternative to holiday’s abroad, especially during these times. Rather than renovating it, the changing rooms were bulldozed into the bathing pool. The rubble sitting in the baths has resulted in a build-up of silt and debris, and the river water that once flowed freely now no longer can and is of such poor quality that bathing is not safe.
This area is of immense local importance and should be treated as such. It is a vital recreational amenity for families. Many people have very fond memories of their parents bringing them there to play and learn to swim.
It was the location of the historic Christmas Day Swim. This is the only Christmas Day swim held as a competitive race in the country, and it gets competitive! Crowds of hardy swimmers and onlookers would gather there on Christmas morning, and because of the good cheer, the traditional sing-song was a must with renditions of “There is an Isle.”
Sadly, the pool has been forgotten and is the site for anti-social behaviour. The people of Limerick want the City Council to commit to cleaning this up. Once cleaned out, the water will flow back through. There is so much potential for the baths as a focal point for a city that in recent years has created a whole festival around the River Shannon, i.e., Riverfest. There has also been an outstanding commitment to getting people active to manage weight and mental wellbeing in recent years, with Limerick Sports Partnership doing great work to promote exercise in all its forms. What better way to get people to get out in the fresh air and be active and in a beautiful setting like the Corbally Baths.
However, the petition and the support of Deputy Kieran O’ Donnell brings great news! Deputy O’Donnell said, “I have arranged and held a number of meetings with Limerick City and County Council officials and Limerick Narwhals swimming club on-site to look at the feasibility of the restoration of the Corbally Baths, as well as the very popular Christmas Day Swim, Deputy Kieran O’ Donnell explains. He continues and adds that, “Following these direct engagements, I am very pleased that the council have agreed to include Corbally Baths in their Strategic Assessment of Storm and Surface Water Collection Networks and Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028 process.”
I welcome study underway by JBA Consultancy for @LimerickCouncil,as we requested,looking into restoration of Corbally Baths, including water quality analysis
— Kieran O’Donnell TD for Limerick City Constituency (@kodonnellLK) April 12, 2021
Mark Dempsey, of Limerick Narwhals said, “If we get it right and clean it out, it shouldn’t be that hard, it’s only rubble and silt and stuff like that, you know, especially for myself and my guys that swim in the icy water every Winter, we’re up in Castleconnell and have no place to train, we’re out getting changed in the back of a car when it’s raining when there is an opportunity that is right on our doorstep.”
Our natural waterway is the River Shannon; the baths are already there, so it would not be a huge jump to make it swimmable again. Together, we can continue to fill Limerick with pride and positivity that it deserves by making use of all the great amenities we have. Bring back the Baths!
To sign the petition, go HERE
For more petition stories, go HERE