History of Naturism in Ireland

History of naturism in Ireland

Ireland was traditionally a very conservative society where the influence and power of the Catholic Church was very strong. The attitude of the Church towards sexual morality was extremely rigid. Censorship was very strict and any display of nudity was illegal. In this atmosphere naturism was regarded as immoral and indecent.

The INA was founded in 1963. Prior to this date the small number of naturists who lived in Ireland were members of what was then the Central Council for British Naturism. A few Irish people met while on a naturist holiday in Corsica and decided to set up the Irish Naturist Association. One of our founder members, John Conlon, is still an active member. For many years after its foundation the INA was a secretive organisation and meetings were held in members’ homes. Occasionally there were outings to a secluded beach in County Wicklow, south of Dublin, but members stayed hidden in the sand dunes and did not go onto the beach or swim in the sea.

In the late 1970s Paul Moynihan, who died in 2017, became President. He was much more open to change and began to publicise the naturist cause. Ireland was also beginning to become more liberal in its outlook and censorship began to ease. Paul displayed and sold naturist magazines and books in his shop in central Dublin. He was threatened many times with prosecution by the police for displaying indecent literature but he refused to back down. Paul gave many interviews to newspapers and radio, took part in a television documentary and even organised a naturist holiday fair when the organisers of a big holiday fair in Dublin refused to allow the INA to take part. As a result of all this publicity public attitudes towards naturism began to change. In the early 1980s Club Aquarius was set up in Dublin to cater for naturist couples and families and they succeeded in hiring a number of swimming pools, including one run by Dublin City Council, which was a breakthrough.

In the early 2000s Pat Gallagher became President. He believed that we as naturists should be proud of our lifestyle and he gave numerous media interviews which successfully portrayed us as ordinary normal people.  Pat also started a campaign to have the law changed so that local authorities could designate suitable beaches or bathing places as naturist or clothing optional.

In 2014 the INA hosted the International Naturist Congress in Ireland. It was a big success and generated a large amount of very positive publicity for us. In 2015 we heard that the Government was reviewing the law on sexual offences following a High Court decision that the old 1935 law on indecent exposure was unconstitutional. We made a detailed submission to the Government and were very pleased that the law was changed in 2017 so that an offence involving nudity was committed only if the person intended to cause offence or alarm or was engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct.ina logo better quality


The day I overcame my feelings of body inadequacy

Sole Felsen
The day I overcame my feelings of body inadequacy

Looking back now with hindsight, I realise I hated my body during my teenage years. I was deeply body-ashamed, hating my female shape, and afraid to look at myself from my neck down. It became normal for me to hide behind layers and layers of clothing. 

I wasn’t alone, as many of my girlfriends also had body issues, but not to my extremes of feeling ashamed. I was so body conscious that for over a decade I never once set foot inside a swimming pool or went to a beach. Thankfully my parents didn’t actually notice why I was so intent on avoiding beach holidays, accepting that I would prefer to take my own vacations abroad.

It’s very possible I would have gone through my entire life feeling this way about my body if it wasn’t for the fact that many years later, when in my late twenties, I moved to continental Europe. In my new country spas were very popular and affordable. Chatting with my work colleagues I learned that the benefits of the sauna experience were huge, as they told me about the different types of sauna rooms complete with varying temperatures, decoration, and all sorts of salt/honey/mud/etc peeling techniques.

Over time I became more and more curious to experience a spa for myself, but there was one big problem – I knew that nudity was mandatory in the sauna area. With my long established body insecurity issues, I came up with all sorts of reasons to convince myself not to go. Are ugly people frowned upon in spas?, I’d ask myself. Was I too fat to be naked in public? Was I too ugly? Would other users stare at me and judge me as unsuitable for going naked?

At the same time I rebuked myself for thinking like an insecure child. More and more I knew I wanted to try it out at all costs.

Eventually one day I finally decided to rid myself of that paralysing female insecurity that had made me miss some life opportunities. I decided I was finally going to confront that fear of being naked in public for the very first time in my life. 

Playing it safe, I booked a session at my local sauna, on my own, on a Monday morning when I figured that the place would be relatively deserted. That proved to be the case, with nearly all the other sauna goers seeming to be retired gentlemen. Before I knew it I found myself sitting naked in a sauna at nearly 100 C. At first I sat in a most uncomfortable position, determined to show as little of my body as possible, but I soon realised the men had their eyes closed and were only focusing on their own sweating. 

Feeling more relaxed all the time, I repeated my sauna courses in the other rooms until I entered an empty steam room as the same time as a man who seemed to be 100 years old. We sat in equitable silence for a number of minutes before he spoke up: “You win! I was trying to endure this heat for a few more minutes out of pure vanity.  I didn’t want to appear as a weakling in front of you, but I’ll have to leave now, you are definitely stronger than me!!!” 

I burst out laughing, realising that I was mostly laughing at myself. While I was worried how other people might regard my body, he probably didn’t even notice that I was naked. Instead he was more concerned about out-lasting me in the extreme heat – the same as if we were clothed. 

It took that old man to make me finally realise the truth – that body shame exists only in your own mind, and once you accept who and what you are, how much happier you will be. After all those years of being preoccupied with thoughts of body shame, I finally got it thanks to the lesson from those octogenarian men. If they didn’t mind what other people would think of them, why should I be so insecure about myself? We are all the same worthy human beings, no matter what shape or size we are.

As Nature Intended – an insight into naturism by a female first timer


Naturism, nudism…it seemed the same to me. I couldn’t tell you the difference between the two concepts. I never thought of it beyond stereotypes: something done by “eccentric” people, somehow related to exhibitionism, and mostly done by men.

However, some time ago a friend told me about naturism, how she became a member of Irish Naturist Association and how much she enjoyed naturist outings and being in contact with nature, as nature intended.  She also told me how popular naturism is in some Central European countries, how naturism is practiced by families plus the benefits for children as they learn to appreciate and accept their own bodies and other people’s bodies, apart from sexual connotations, in a respectful environment. Talking to her inspired a genuine curiosity in me and I felt that I should try, at least try.

However, I always told her that my preference would be to experience naturism in a warmer location than Ireland. I am quite a shivery/chilly person, and the idea of going nude in Ireland was inconceivable for me. I have never worn sandals or shorts in Ireland and I’m always fully wrapped up.  Of course, I have never dipped my feet in the Irish Sea, despite the insistence of my children. I have always been a little envious of people swimming throughout the whole year in places such as Seapoint or the Forty Foot.

A few days ago, my friend invited me to join a naturist group of people to go to the beach. As this was likely to be the last sunny and warm day of the year, I did not want to miss this opportunity. So finally, I postponed my commitments and decided to join, ready for my first nudist experience.

How did I feel before going? It may seem weird, but I was more worried about the cold weather than about going nude. However, I was reassured by my friend that it would be ok if I remained clothed so my worries disappeared.

There we were, enjoying a magnificent sunny morning near the end of September. We parked the car and I was introduced to the people as they arrived.  Then, we walked towards the beach but as there were some non nudist people already there, the group decided to go to a nearby beach which was more secluded.

After a brief stroll through the bushes, we arrived at a wonderful Wicklow beach.  As people started to undress, I followed suit. Although I had never done it before, it felt both natural and a little strange to me. I recalled how I used to go to the beach or the swimming pool in the past and not have the confidence to wear a bikini and would always wear a full swimsuit instead.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel nervous or embarrassed as I realised that no one is looking at you, just as you are not looking at them. The beach was really beautiful, soft sand and calm waters with the added bonus of incredibly warm and sunny weather. It was the perfect day for my first nudist experience.

I was so enraptured by the whole experience that I caught myself in surprise with the sudden realisation that I was walking nude along the beach, with the sun rays warming my whole body as I chatted to a complete stranger who happened to be a male and nude also.  And the best of it, it was quite natural and enjoyable. I was enjoying nature as I had not done so for a long time, in a nice and relaxed atmosphere, talking with affable people as we walked along a marvellous Irish beach.

I headed for a swim, a really short one. I was doing something I have never dared to do before, and I felt really good about it and what a refreshing swim it was. Overall, I had a feeling of getting back to nature, as nature intended, and I really enjoyed being there. I was in harmony and communion with nature and I had the impression that I belonged there. At some point, I experienced a feeling of being related to people that in ancient times were living much closer to nature as we do live now, and I realised how much I had been missing out.

Time to go back to normal life arrived too soon for me and it was kind of hard to accept. It was strange, but I wanted to remain there, and at the same time I was feeling sorry for my children, not only my children but most people, probably stuck indoors not being able to enjoy what I just experienced.

Back home, a very especial feeling of well-being accompanied me for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, after collecting my children from school, I played with them in the park, running with an energy that they were surprised to find in me. I was feeling really energetic and optimistic, and willing to share my experience with other people.

I don’t know if it was the effect of being nude, the cold Irish Sea waters, the sunny day, the beautiful Wicklow beach, the friendly people or altogether. But it does not matter! It was a wonderful experience that I highly recommend to everyone and that I am looking forward to repeating.

I am very grateful to my friend and to all the friendly people of Irish Naturist Association that allowed me to have this very enjoyable first nudist experience. I will not miss the next meet up!

The perfect naturist treat – Free spa entrance on your birthday

Did you know that there are quite a number of textile-free sauna centres that offer free admission on one’s birthday? You just need to show your ID to get a free pass.

Here a non-comprehensive list:

St Martin

Sole Felsen

Therme Laa


Zuiver Spa


Be Naked Day in Ireland 2017… and tell a friend about it !

Having been a member of Irish Naturist Association (INA) and active naturist for almost four years, there have been many occasions where I wished that close friends and family could feel the same as me about naturism – the sense of freedom, relaxation, body-acceptance, benefits of vitamin D, self-esteem and the overwhelming feel-good factor that I always get. I wished that I would be able to tell them that I am a naturist. If only life was so simple!

The reality of course was a feeling of fear and nerves any time I dwelled on the idea. The fear of not knowing how someone would react was the most concerning – would they cut me off or how would their opinion of me change. But surely by keeping naturism a secret I risk giving people the perception that I am hiding something or doing something wrong.  There’s a strong case to suggest that the more people that reveal their involvement in naturism, the more positive the opinion among textiles becomes. A naturist friend of mine once told me, “if friends cannot accept you as naturist, for what makes you happy or for who you are, then perhaps there were not good friends to begin with”.

In Ireland it’s a fact that many naturists keep their naturist activities a secret from their parents, partners, children and friends. The difficulty of this is that when you can’t be totally honest you become involved in a situation where you need to make excuses or lie. Thankfully I was open and honest with my partner from day one about my love of naturism and although it was not something that appealed to her, she appreciated my honesty. One important point to highlight is your choice of words, as some people relate the word “nude” to sex. I simply used the words “naturist” and “clothes free” when describing my involvement with INA.

Over time I told three other friends of mine but never face to face, just over email/social media chats. In fact the first friend I told was a female in her forties who lived over 5,000 km away and her reaction was very positive “good on you” and a feeling of “I wish I could do that”. It certainly felt good after telling someone other than my partner and I remember saying to myself that I should have told her long before now. I followed up by telling two other friends who were both in their thirties, although living in Ireland, they lived a considerable distance away from me so I told them over social media chats. All three friends asked me lots of questions, why I like being a naturist, how long had I been a naturist, what type of people do I meet, did I ever meet someone I knew and  where do I practice naturism in Ireland. All three asked the same question about a member of the public seeing me when I was on the beach. My answer was simple, I never go out to cause offence to anyone and there’s always the added security and safety in numbers when I attend INA events as I am always in a group. By now I had received three very positive responses … Why did I wait so long?!?

In August ’17, as part of “Be Naked Day”, INA proposed a challenge to just tell someone you know about your participation in naturism. I thought about it and felt this would be a good opportunity to actually tell a friend, face to face. I was planning on going to a popular naturist beach, Sallymount, Co. Wicklow on that day and had a friend that lived less than 10kw away that I had been meaning to meet up with from some time now. This could be an opportunity, I thought.

However, this time around felt very different as I thought how I would be able to see his initial reaction, read his body language and listen to the tone of his voice – all of which were absent from my interaction with the previous three friends. Yet again I began thinking and predicting what his reaction would be. This was someone who I worked with in the past, I used to be his boss for almost 10 years and we were both in our early forties now. How would his perception of me change, from a professional and personal point of view? As these questions wondered through my mind, I did consider not telling him but something inside me kept saying ‘what’s the worst that can happen’.

We met in a coffee shop at the agreed time, after two or three minutes of small talk, I told him I had some news for him and explained how I was a naturist. His first reaction was “What?!” as he tilted his head and converged his eyebrows, I could sense he was asking himself the question did I say what he thought I just said. I spoke about the amazing benefits that I have felt since joining Irish Naturist Association, especially the outings to Sallymount Beach, just south of Brittas Bay relatively close to where he lived along with the feel good factor, the freedom and how I have made some really good friends. But to be fair he listened to me and didn’t judge. I told him about my very first outdoor naturist experience which was at Sallymount Beach and that I will never forget how great I felt afterwards as I drove home. It was an amazing experience that I instantly became addicted to. Then he said: “WOW, fair play to you!, I would never have guessed!!”. He did make a comment that he knew about the naturist beach just 10km away. He also passed a comment on how popular it appears to be in mainland Europe.

I followed up by telling him about some of the special event Spas I attended in a naturist environment in Ireland along with the trips to some other spas in Europe where it was simply natural to be naked.

I showed him my International Naturist Federation card and the first thing he noticed was the 2013 stamp and asked why I was telling him today. I opened the INA newsletter on my phone and showed him the flyer for “Be Naked Day” and spoke to him about the challenge. He laughed and said “who knows, maybe someday I’ll join you at the beach…”

It really felt good to have told a friend, face to face and to have received such a positive reaction, no silly jokes or anything like that. Time for my next challenge…….


Living the Dream, by Pat Gallagher, president of Irish Naturist Association

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    Sitting here in front of the computer on a miserable Sunday morning with torrential downpours outside, and reading the naturist blog. Then it occurred to me that I have never made a contribution, so now seems as good a time as any.
    Many reading this blog may know me and Mary. Many others will not. Mary and I discovered the freedom of not having to wear clothes back in the mid 70s. We were fortunate enough to have got the lend of a friends caravan near to a beach in Co Wexford. We usually went in June and mid- week the beach was mostly empty. We had a wind cheater for comfort. I soon realised that when I came out of the water and dried off I was still wearing a wet bathing trunks. After a day or so I dispensed with the trunks after swimming and discovered this sense of total freedom. Mary was somewhat fearful that someone might come along and see me, but then she copied my actions and discovered for herself how free it was to be naked and not have to wear wet clothing. We soon dispensed with the costumes altogether and strolled around as nature intended us to be. When we would see a person coming along we simply went to cover behind the wind cheater.
    We took to this lifestyle like a duck to water, soon exploring quiet beaches and lakes
    where we could be naked. We even found a small corner of our semi detached house. Where with the use of a blanket on the clothes line we were not seen from the neighbour. We continued this scenario for a number of years until we discovered the Irish Naturist Association and joined. The association then was somewhat of a secret society with one venue in south Co Dublin. Occasional visits to Brittas beach where we spent most of the time in a large sand dune for fear we might be seen. However, over the years we progressed and soon had proper beach outings and the use of a corporation pool on a weekly basis. Now we were practising proper naturism.
    In 1997 Mary and I decided to pull up sticks and move from the city to a rural setting where we might be afforded more privacy to be able to live our lifestyle. After looking at many places all around the country we found this ideal old farm dwelling in Co Roscommon. It was much further than Mary wanted to go but on arrival this little house somehow seemed to say buy me. So we did. We moved on the day before our 27th wedding anniversary. We knew no one around so it was either a brave or totally senseless move. As it turned out it was the best decision we probably ever made.
    We soon settled in and got to know our way around and meet with people. We were
    accepted well by all but still had our complete privacy around our new home.
    In the beginning the gardens all around were completely overgrown with just about every kind of weed and bramble it’s possible to have. The weather was good so we set out to clear areas for use. This we were able to do without clothing except when using certain heavy power tools. 20 years on now we still carry out some maintence but mostly as nature intended. But mostly when the weather is good we just laze about naked and eat meals in the great outdoors as much as possible. We grow some fruits around the gardens which when picked goes to jam making. This is a hobby that Mary enjoys doing nude except for the occasional use of an apron for health and safety reasons. These jams are sold in the Farmers markets around Roscommon, Leitrim and Sligo and are in high demand. We used to have our own stalls in markets but now we have another person who sells our jams. Most of the work outside and indoors can be done without clothing so we can spend many hours naked as nature intended. In winter we heat the house with radiators from the range so again no need for clothing as the house is always quiet warm. And there is nothing more exhilarating than being able to go out in the frost and snow for a short walk around the property before coming back in to a warm home.
    We got lucky a few years ago when an offer of a hot tub came our way at the right price. This is installed in a specially made housing outside on the veranda. We love to use it regular especially first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. And it is also appreciated by our naturist friends when they visit.
    I hope by putting our story in writing it has made others think and consider changing their lives so as to get the most out of being naturists and living the dream also. A few photos included to show a little of our lives.
    Pat and Mary

World Naked Garden(ing) Day in Ireland 2017

Following on from the success of our inaugural event to celebrate World Naked Gardening Day at Hunting Brook Gardens last year, where our YouTube video has reached views in excess of 73,000. This year’s event was held at Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon, over the weekend of the AGM where over 40 INA members plus invited guests to the AGM attended the private booking.

One of the main attractions of Strokestown Park is a six acre walled garden that has been restored to its original splendour, giving an insight into horticultural design and architecture from the 1740’s. The walled gardens include features such as the herbaceous border, the fernery, the lilly pond, the Victorian rose garden, pergola, peach house, vinery, fruit and vegetable garden and herb garden to name but a few.

It must be said how wonderfully accommodating the event coordinator at Strokestown Park was in facilitating a private booking for members of the INA. She even arranged for a private lesson and game of croquet from two members of Strokestown Croquet Club (Croquet was played on the lawns of Strokestown Park in the 1890’s).

Everyone seemed to enjoy the croquet a lot, some kept playing it up until the end of the 2 hours while one lady from Galway displayed a competitive streak against a fellow member from Kilkenny – signs of things to come in the championship!

You can have a visual insight into out Visit to Strokestown Park here: video in youtube available now!