Naked Art meets Naked Audience in Dublin

Oscar Wilde — ‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.’

Art Nude Ireland In-Spire Gallery 2018


For the first time in Ireland members of the public will have the opportunity to attend an exhibition of nude art photography in their birthday suit. This will be a unique pioneering occasion for Dublin, as only a handful of cities around the world can claim the same accolade.

The Palais de Tokyo contemporary Art Museum on Avenue President Wilson in the city’s lush 16th arrondissement will become the first gallery in Paris to welcome visitors keen to bare all for a one-off naturists’ day on May 5th 2018.

Also, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts held a special evening tour in 2016 where over 100 patrons checked out the late Robert Mapplethorpe’s work while strutting their stuff in the buff.

Vienna’s prestigious Leopold Museum seemed to be wanting to emulate the scandal effect of erotica art in the past by having naked visitors at its exhibitions in 2013 and 2005.

At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney the naked initiative in 2012 would have striven to help “remove the material barriers between artist and audience (literally),” according to the museum.

Our Dublin exhibition –The Body/Le Corps, as part of the Photo Ireland Festival 2018- is being hosted by Art Nude Ireland (, a collective of photographers and models working to develop the art nude photography genre in Ireland, and Échiquier, an international association representing the trends of photographic art across 35 nations.

The exhibition, which will run from 24th May 2018 to 30th May 2018, consists of 48 images with essentially equal representation of the work of the models and photographers of the Irish and French collectives. The exhibition, by covering the gamut of the genre, will allow viewers to experience the range of imagery that constitutes the canon of art nude photography.

On Tuesday 29th May 2018 from 7pm to 9pm one of the artists will offer a private guided viewing to nude visitors, who will undress inside the premises. No pictures of the attendees will be taken without explicit consent.

As the event is an avant-garde, leading, ground-breaking approach to art appreciation great interest has been shown thus far, particularly amongst the younger generation.

Irish Naturist Association (INA) expects around 80 people – the gallery capacity doesn’t allow for more.  INA members will come along and mix freely with other genuine naturists (no exhibitionists, no voyeurs, just non-sexual social nudity for body acceptance and physical/mental freedom).

Refreshments will be available at this free event but early booking essential through Eventbrite or directly through Irish Naturist Association.

At time of writing some free tickets were still remaining:

(Private Nude Viewing of Art Nude Ireland Photography Exhibition)

Venue: In-Spire Gallery, 56 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1

in-spire gallery



Naturist activities in Connaught, Ireland

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.Barna

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.

Equinoctial Nude Swim Challenge 2018 in Ireland

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Vernal (Spring) Equinox marks the first day of astronomical spring, the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator. What better way to celebrate this equinoctial event than a nude swim challenge on one of our favourite Wicklow beaches. This was organised by the Irish Naturist Association for its members.

Weather forecast predicted showers so we came prepared. But to our delight the seven of us were met by warm spring sunshine as we made our way along the pathway to Magheramore beach.

Descending down towards the sea we noticed a large text inscribed in the sand: “To be one with nature”. Who was here before us with this welcoming sign?? But the beach appeared empty. Also, we observed that there seemed to have been a recent beach clean-up since several discarded large drums were carefully lying at the entrance. Could it have been that person (possibly a naturist), who had also written on the sand?

We walked northwards along the sand but the incoming tide prevented us from getting to our usual spot. However, it didn’t matter: we had the beach to ourselves! Feeling the heat from the intermittent spring sunshine we undressed to enjoy body freedom and to embrace the sun’s rays.

It was time to brave the cold water, some had charged in ahead of me – no, thank you!!  I hesitated at the shoreline but eventually proceeded. It was arguably the coldest water I had ever waded into. The water was indeed too chilly for recreational swimming, hence we retreated back to the beach to participate in ball throwing to warm up. Miniature rugby balls were flying in the air but the stones on the beach made it difficult to run and catch.

So, we decided to make our way to the other end of the beach (most southerly part). Here the sand was free of stones and we could run and jump freely. However, we noticed rubbish at this end but unfortunately, we had no refuse sacks with us. With immediate agreement we decided our next outing would be a Magheramore beach clean-up (date to be announced).

Before we knew it was nearly noon, as with all outings the time just flew by. We hesitantly got dressed. But there was a problem – a big problem.

A pair of trousers was missing (owner name not to be disclosed). Panic!!! We looked and searched everywhere, even our own bags in case they may have been mistakenly deposited in the wrong one. No sign! We broke into search parties and trawled the beach back towards where we were originally. The trousers were spotted at the shore line just as the incoming tide was about to swallow it – disaster averted. The idiom ‘keep your trousers on’ came to mind.

While returning to the cars the sun relinquished its rays, as if to remind us that we were back into the restrictions of textile life. Reflecting on the day’s events, it was another thoroughly enjoyable outing that left me feeling uplifted and happy. And I could not have been in better company; thank you to my fellow naturists for making it a most pleasant outing!

Dipping the toe – an Irish story

Maspalomas nudist sign


Naturism for me continues to be a voyage of self discovery and the way that I have viewed and indeed interpreted it has evolved with time. As I understood it, there was no “right way” to do it the first time in a very public setting and I can recall vividly that first time that I was going to “go for it “, the excitement of reaching for a goal and the nerves of actually following through on something that I had only imagined up to that time.

It was on a beach in the beautiful Canary islands many years ago. Yes, I had walked the beaches and moved from the textile to the nude beaches and tried not to let my head come off its shoulders, never having seen so many naked relaxed chilled people in one place before. I was struck by the normality of it, given that the lad from Ireland had been reared to believe that was completely unacceptable and the famous Father Ted quote “Down with that sort of thing ” was drilled into the ultra conservative Irish. Interestingly, the trip to the Canaries offered some form of perceived protection or anonymity but ironically there may well have been as many Irish tourists on the beach that day as there were in Brittas Bay in Wicklow.
But back to my own experience. I was not familiar with the etiquette involved. I knew there were textile and nude areas but where they started and ended seemed to be unclear. I was not as fortunate as some to wander without knowing into a nude beach. As I look back now, having gone to the trouble of trying to find it showed a certain level of ambition to get out there and get involved. I had also figured out there were gay concentrations and couples concentrated in particular areas, but there was no “how to” manual and no way to know except trial and error and the risks of getting it wrong were potentially catastrophic or so it seemed back then. Now I giggle to myself at the insignificance of what made my heart race like it did.
After pacing the beach up and back down again I was more adamant than ever that I wanted to be part of this magical celebration of the ultimate in relaxation. Relaxation of the body but also of the mind and something that has stayed with me. Nudity now is an expression for me of shedding my trials and tribulations, stresses and worries as I let it all hang out in the emotional and physical sense.
But how was I going to take the leap? I decided to hedge my bets and pitch my towel on the beach but backing up to the dunes a little to give me some psychological shielding. I had picked a spot that was non aligned. Not committed to any particular camp or faction. This too is something that has followed me all these years. Whereas I am not necessarily an anti-social nudist, I do not crave the attention, acceptance or company of others. This is interesting in the context that I do actually seek out areas that are public to other like minded individuals.

Site located, pacing over, towel placed, dunes as a shield and I was ready. Or was I? 30 minutes of careful application of factor 50 clearly indicated that I wasn’t. It was a pleasure-pain experience and eventually I had a conversation to myself and asked myself was this what I actually wanted to do. Of course it was. So what was stopping me? It was the fear of being identified. But more than identified. It was the fear that it would lead to a judgement and castigation. The moment of truth truly was upon me and I decided to go for it.

30 seconds later and I genuinely had no idea what I had managed to get myself so worked up over. The weight had lifted. The sense of achievement was strong but more than anything it felt natural and perfectly acceptable. In no way was it out of the ordinary. The cliché of “the rest is history” certainly holds true but everyone has to start somewhere. It was surprising to me how quickly it all was normalised.

The very real challenge of ensuring that not a postage stamp size of milk bottle white skin was exposed became the next task. This too is something that has stayed with me and I would implore people to make sure they take adequate sun screen protection with them. Trust me when I say it makes you no less of a dedicated nudist and the real way to spot the newbie nudist is watch for the lobster red body laid out on the beach.

Hopefully there is at least one but wannabe nudist that will read this article and realise that if a now confirmed and dedicated nudist can do it, then so can they. The mind is a wonderful supercomputer but sometimes it overprocesses information and overcomplicates things. Sometimes one really needs to just do it. Now I am delighted to say that there is no reason a first experience should be in the Canary islands given the wealth of Irish locations that are accepting of the nudist tradition. There are support networks out there to guide and better shape experiences, and society is changing for the better to accept what nudists know is perfectly normal.

Irish Saunas – 100 years behind

As we gathered at Dublin Airport on a cold damp, dark morning I found it hard to envisage that within a few short hours we would be sampling the delights of Europe’s largest spa, Therme Erding.

Stepping off the plane at Munich Airport we were immediately taken aback by the sharp drop in temperature. The snow began to fall as we took the last leg of the journey via taxi. Looking out at the snow-covered landscape it was hard to believe we were only minutes away from a Bavarian paradise.  On arriving at Theme Erding I was struck by the pure scale of the dome like structure, and hundreds or cars in what seemed to be a completely full car park. Surely this could not be on a normal working day?

After getting through reception and receiving our electronic wrist tag we were greeted by Gert, a regular at Therme Erding. Interestingly Gert and his colleagues belong to a local independent naturist group

Gert explained that they are not registered or aligned to the main FKK associations as naturism is so advanced and widely recognised that they are at a post awareness stage where it’s generally accepted by German society. Nobody bats an eyelid when they’re out cycling naked along the River Isar.

Having changed in a communal changing area we then made our way with towel to the main area but interestingly we had to go through separate shower areas for both sexes. The reason being was that Therme Erding caters for both textile and nontextile clientele. On leaving the shower area there is the diversion into the textile area. We proceeded straight to the main spa area just ahead of us.

First impressions again were the impressive size, everything in one massive enclosed compound and the choices that were available. Interestingly I noted everyone seemed to wander around with towels wrapped around but to disarm when entering each sauna. Meanwhile Gert had introduced us to two other locals Matthias and Uwe. Matthias explained that this was a house rule to use the towel whilst wandering around. But he seemed to imply that in the immediate area of the pool and the saunas the rule is somewhat relaxed. But alas, we were after all in Germany and everyone was obeying the rules.

With the first 15-minute sauna session done we turned to the Freizeitbad or main pool area and were met by real palm trees, turquoise water, white sand and a cocktail Bar in the middle of the pool where you could sit on a submerged stool naked and have a beer or cocktail. Two of the group had already stolen a march on me and were sitting comfortably enjoying the local brew. But overall it really is a sight to behold, a large pool with bar near the middle with stools, swimming area ringed by palm trees, whirlpools and jacuzzi beds around the sides.

The pool was partitioned between indoor and outdoor. A narrow exit point led to the outdoor pool. Here the steam coming off the thermal heated water was like a dense fog. The snow fell incessantly as I swam around – another first! To those present it’s a Bavarian Eden. Hundreds of happy bathers aged from 18 to 80 splashing and swimming naked in 34C healing springs,

What to do next? The Bavarian “Zirbelstube”, the Finnish  Kelosauna, the Icelandic “Geysirhöhle”, the Celtic Stonehenge experience?  We decided first to sample the “Citrus sauna” fragrant aromas. After a brief respite we trekked quickly along an outdoor path to try the Finnish  Kelosauna and we then had to follow the example of our new German friends and take the outdoor plunge pool.

It was nearly 2.30 and time for the Aufgüsse, but it was located in one of the outdoor saunas, there was a huge queue. It was too full, obviously a big favourite with the locals, regrettably I gave it a miss.  I subsequently discovered that there was a special separate Aufgus for men and for women with different drinks and small bite appetisers provided. Of course, it had to be beer for the men.

It was evident that each sauna had a different temperature setting which was clearly labelled near the entrance. The idea being to commence the sauna tour on the lower temperature setting – culminating with the final 100C session. Whilst debating whether to try a thermal rock pool or a steam room I was confronted by a young lady with a tray offering chocolate. But this was no Cadburys promotion. She quickly encouraged me to take a scoop and apply it to my face, neck and shoulders and then led me to a sauna. Straight after it was to the cold shower to wash it off.

Germany has one of the most comprehensive spa cultures in Europe, and with the support of the German federal health care system to boot! The German equivalent for spa is Heilbad or ‘healing bath’ or Kurort which literally mean ‘cure place’. Any town in Germany can qualify and choose to use the prefix ‘Bad’ or bath before their town name. Those towns that qualify have met the strictest air and water quality standards and have been able to establish the necessary medical staff and infrastructure to cater to those seeking treatment.

Looking back everyone was so well behaved, the Germans stick to the rules and regulations rigidly. I don’t know how many people were in the complex but it must have been between 750 and 1000. To say the least, all 17 of us were highly impressed.

It is so hard to envisage that this type of ‘spa culture’ could ever take off in Ireland. Germany has nearly 900 spa resorts, including mineral and mud spas, climatic health resorts (known for fresh air), sea-side resorts, and Kniepp hydrotherapy spa resorts.

It took this experience for me to finally realise the truth – that Ireland regrettably is in the ‘dark ages’ when it comes to a spa culture where adults of all ages can enjoy this ‘health culture’ in the nude without being paranoid and self-conscious.

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.