Forty Foot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Forty Foot
Map showing the location of Forty Foot
Map showing the location of Forty Foot
Map showing the location of Forty Foot
Map showing the location of Forty Foot
OSI/OSNI gridO 25829 28205
Coordinates53°17′22″N 6°06′49″W / 53.28944°N 6.11361°W / 53.28944; -6.11361Coordinates: 53°17′22″N 6°06′49″W / 53.28944°N 6.11361°W / 53.28944; -6.11361
Part ofDublin Bay
Depth20 ft (6.1 m) at high tide
Railing at the Forty Foot
Forty Foot in 2009

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]


In former times it was exclusively a gentlemen's bathing place and the gentlemen's swimming club was established to help conserve the area.[3] Owing to its relative isolation and gender-specific nature it became a popular spot for nudists,[3] but in the 1970s, during the women's liberation movement, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters[3] and now it is also open to women and children. The gentlemen's swimming club still exists and is open to all genders, it expects voluntary contributions to the upkeep of the area.[3] Many people believe that swimming in the extremely cold water is healthy.

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).


  1. ^ "Cladach an Daichead Troigh/Forty Foot".
  2. ^ as of 2008
  3. ^ a b c d e "Fortyfoot". Fortyfoot. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.
  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.

External links[edit]