Forty Foot

Coordinates: 53°17′22″N 6°06′49″W / 53.28944°N 6.11361°W / 53.28944; -6.11361
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Forty Foot
Cladach an Daichead Troigh (Irish)
Forty Foot is located in Dublin
Forty Foot
Forty Foot
Forty Foot is located in Ireland
Forty Foot
Forty Foot
Coordinates: 53°17′22″N 6°06′49″W / 53.28944°N 6.11361°W / 53.28944; -6.11361
Grid positionO 25829 28205
Part ofDublin Bay
Native nameCladach an Daichead Troigh (Irish)
 • Depth20 ft (6.1 m) at high tide
Forty Foot changing rooms and clubhouse kitchen, 2008
Sunrise at the Forty Foot, 2018

The Forty Foot (Irish: Cladach an Daichead Troigh)[1] is a promontory on the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin, Ireland, from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for some 250 years.[2][3]


The name "Forty Foot" is somewhat obscure. On an 1833 map, the Marine Road (located 1.5 km (0.93 mi) to the west) was named the Forty Foot Road, possibly because it was 40 ft (12 m) wide; the name may have been transferred to the swimming place, which was called the Forty-Foot Hole in the 19th century.[4][5]

Other accounts claim the name was given by fishermen because it was forty feet (6+23 fathoms) deep, but the water in the area is no deeper than 20 ft (6.1 m; 3.3 fathoms).[6] Others have attempted to link it to the 40th (the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot, who supposedly bathed there, but they were stationed at Richmond Barracks in Inchicore.[7][8][9][10]


At first, it was exclusively a male bathing place, and Sandycove Bathers Association, a men's swimming club was established.[3] Owing to its relative isolation and gender-restrictions it became a popular spot for nudists.[3] On 24 July 1974, about a dozen of female equal-rights activists ("Dublin City Women’s Invasion Force") went swimming, and sat with placards.[11] and later, including less than five women, swam nude, in 1989,[12] now swimming is open to men, women, and children. In 2014, the Sandycove Bathers Association ended the ban on women club members,[11] and they may now use the onsite changing rooms and clubhouse kitchen.[13] The swimming club requests voluntary contributions for the upkeep of the area.[3]


Death, near-drowning and hypothermia have resulted from swimming at Forty Foot.[14][15][16][17]

In literature[edit]

James Joyce and Oliver St. John Gogarty once resided at the Martello tower together. It is now the James Joyce Tower and Museum. The opening section of Joyce's Ulysses is set here, with the characters Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan being partly based on Joyce himself and Gogarty, respectively. Buck Mulligan described the sea as "The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea."

The Forty Foot also featured in the novels At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien (1939), At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill (2001) and Nessuna notizia dello scrittore scomparso by Daniele Bresciani (2017).

In media[edit]

The Forty Foot is featured in the series Bad Sisters.[18]

In the 2023 documentary film Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, With Dave Letterman, David Letterman visits the location, which ends up serving as inspiration for the composition of a song by Bono and the Edge called "40 Foot Man" featured in the credits of show.[19]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wainwright, Loudon III (19 August 2017). "The 10 Best Places to Swim in the World, According to Me". The New York Times.
  • "Surf Report: Forty Foot". Magic Seaweed.



  1. ^ "Cladach an Daichead Troigh/Forty Foot".
  2. ^ as of 2008
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ Gifford, Don; Seidman, Robert J. (23 December 1988). Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's Ulysses. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520067455 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Country Life Illustrated". Hudson & Kearns. 23 December 1899 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "The Forty Foot Dun Laoghaire - J D Wetherspoon".
  7. ^ Di, Jin (3 June 2014). Literary Translation: Quest for Artistic Integrity. Routledge. ISBN 9781317639978 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ McLoughlin, Darren. "Swimming at Dublin's Forty Foot".
  9. ^ "Famous Baths".
  10. ^ Hendroff, Adrian (31 May 2017). Family Walks Around Dublin. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 9781788410076 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ "Nude Bathing At The Forty Foot". RTÉ Archives. July 1989. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  13. ^ Prideaux-Mooney, Ailsa (7 January 2016). "Freezing at the Forty Foot". Where's my backpack?. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Man, 50s, dies after getting into difficulty at Dublin's Forty Foot". Irish Examiner. 29 September 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  15. ^ Cuddihy, Tony (2 March 2018). "Woman pulled from the sea at Dublin's Forty Foot during storm today". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  16. ^ O'Leary, Kim (22 April 2022). "Brave lifeguards rescue injured swimmer at Forty Foot beach". DublinLive. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  17. ^ Burke, Céimin (31 March 2021). "Exhausted swimmer rescued clinging to rocks near Dublin's Forty Foot". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  18. ^ Falvey, Deirdre (11 August 2021). "Is that Sharon Horgan in the Forty Foot? 'Swim to her!'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  19. ^ "Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman". Disney+. 17 March 2023.

External links[edit]