I must admit that when I was first approached to put something in print about naturism in Galway I honestly did not know where to start. Naturism is around us, wherever we wish to find the opportunity. For me my home and my back garden present the ideal opportunities and as a result I spend most of my time nude. That is very easy for me, my house and garden are relatively private and being a naturist all of my life I am not really too upset if a neighbour just happens to see me from a distance from an upstairs bedroom window or whatever. I have lived in my present house for almost fifteen years and nobody has thus far objected or complained.
However most naturists are not as lucky as I and do not have the privacy. So how and where do they do to get that all over tan for themselves! They must travel to discrete and secluded places to enjoy their recreation and freedom. The Galway coastline is a rugged one, being constantly battered by the Atlantic Ocean. As a result the coast is in the main a rocky one and to a great extent devoid of sand. Those sandy areas that do exist are, in comparison to those on the sheltered eastern coast, small short stretches. However we also have numerous lakes that are suitable for naturism and nude recreation and I shall include these as well, ones that I have tried out on occasions.
On a word of caution we should always remember that, whilst it is no longer illegal to be naked in public, we should be careful to not cause offence or distress to others and be mindful that not everyone thinks or feels the same way as us about our beautiful lifestyle.
So, what does county Galway have to offer the discerning naturist? Well, its coastline extends from Ballyvaughan in the south to Leenaun in the north. The principal beaches frequented by naturists are Barna, just outside Galway city, and Puppy’s Cove at Dog’s Bay near Roundstone. These are the most used but there are also a number of others that I have used from time to time. However discretion must be used at these latter places. West of the village of Ballyconneely there are many deserted beaches that are suitable for sunbathing and for swimming. I have also used a beach at Gowlan, Renvyle to the right of the campsite there [across a small stream] When the tide is out this small beach is cut off from the public so one can have it to ones-self.
The naturist area at Barna is about half way between Silver Strand and the Pier at Barna village along the shoreline and can be reached from two directions. The first, park at Silver Strand, Barna and walk to the right over the stones along the shore towards Barna Pier. Secondly, drive towards Barna village. Pass the road for Silver Strand, pass the church [Barna parish church] and take the next turn to the left. At the end of this short road park your car and walk towards the sea. There walk to the left where you will see a rocky point in the distance. That is the naturist area. Hopefully, in the not too distant future the area may be signed ‘clothing optional’ and this will make the area easier to locate. The area is a rocky outcrop but I for swimming I use the sandy area immediately beside the rocks on the Barna side. When the tide is in there is a nice swimming area off the rocks.
Dog’s Bay, or Cuan an Madra, is a small beach about 2 ½ miles on the Ballyconneely road [Clifden coast road] from Roundstone. On the way you pass the entrance for Gurteen Bay Caravan Park. Take the next turn left after Gurteen Bay Park. Walk through a gate at the end of the carpark and continue to the far end of the lovely sandy beach. At the beach end climb slope to the right where you will come to a fence with a gate. Go through and walk along the cliff and you will come to a small secluded sandy cove. This is your dream area, Puppy’s Cove.
Mannin Bay has many beautiful beaches and a number of these are very suitable for naturist activities. Coming from Roundstone, towards Clifden, you pass through the village of Ballyconneely (passing Keoghs Pub on your left), and take the left after Ballyconneely village down the road for Connemara Sands hotel. Drive past this hotel and keep going for a few miles down a narrow road until you come to a fork – you go to the right and then watch out for a gate on your right hand side. You park here on the side of the road and through the gate there is a well-worn track which leads you to the first beach. From there, just walk west and you will find multiple long uninhabited beaches where are perfect for naturism and beautiful pristine waters for a swim (if you dare).
I have also used a beach at Gowlan, Renvyle to the right of the campsite there [across a small stream] When the tide is out this small beach is cut off from the public so one can have it to ones-self. As this beach can be busy at times due to the proximity of the Caravan & Camping Park discretion is required.
Another beach I have used twice is Bishop’s Quarter which is about 3 km on the Galway side of the village of Ballyvaughan. However this beach is used by locals for walking and on occasions swimming so, again discretion.
There are a number of lakeside areas in Galway. The county is the lake district of Ireland. The one I know best is Lough Graney which is just across the border in Co. Clare near the village of Flagmount. The co-ordinates for entry to the venue are 53*00’18.57”N and 8*38’52.09”W. If the forestry gate is closed one must walk the driveway to the first beach. Here walk to the right and follow the path until you come to a stream which you must cross. The naturist area is on the other side of the stream.
There are many lake shore places on Lough Corrib. These areas have to be investigated some more before they can be recommended. But the possibilities here are enormous and exciting.
Galway is also proud of the fact that we have a naturist monthly swim in the Coral Ballinasloe Leisure Centre, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. This takes place on the second Sunday of each month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is a great modern venue. The facilities consist of a 25m 6 lane swimming pool, separate children’s pool and a splash pool and a sauna and steam room. An extremely attractive bright and airy venue to which all are most welcome, male and female, young and old[er].
Just a thought! Galway does have a rocky and battered coastline and the few sandy beaches that it does have are frequented by our ‘textile’ neighbours who are very possessive of their places. Perhaps we could make more use of our rocky areas. After all countries like Croatia do make a lot more use of theirs. And Hawk Cliff in Dalkey, Co. Dublin is such a place and has been developed nicely by the local authority there to make a great venue. Perhaps other authorities could follow suit.