Irish naturists 'delighted' by 1st officially recognized nude beach

Pat Gallagher of the Irish Naturist Association welcomes an official beach to bare it all.

The beach at Hawk Cliff is outside of Dublin

The sign at the beach informs people that there may be naked bathers. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)
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If you've ever been to a beach in Ireland, there's a good chance you were clothed — mostly because of the weather and because it probably didn't cross your mind. 

Even if it did, until recently, it was technically a crime to be nude on a beach in Ireland. 

But that law was struck down in 2014. Now Irish nudists are celebrating another step forward: a sign informing people that there might be naked bathers at their first official nude beach. 

It's a secluded spot just outside Dublin called Hawk Cliff.

Pat Gallagher is the president of the Irish Naturist Association. Here's part of his conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off: 

What does it mean for you that Ireland is to get its first official nudist beach?

I'm fairly well delighted because I personally, along with my colleagues, have been campaigning for many, many years.

We started this around 1994, '95, writing to local authorities to designate areas — areas that were already being used for many years by the naturist community. 

The nude beach will be located south of Dublin in Hawk Cliff, Dalkey. (Google)

What was the law in Ireland that has changed and allowed for this to happen?

There was a law under which you might be prosecuted. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for naturism that I know of, but there was a law which was struck down in 2014.

Then the law reform commission [was] tasked to upgrade the laws. We wrote to the commission and we put forward a submission to them.

In 2017, the law was changed accordingly in so far as that in order to be prosecuted for being naked in a public place it would have to be shown that there was intent to cause harm, distress, and fear to another person.

Of course, we have no intention to cause any harm, distress of fear to anybody.

So the law was against exposing yourself, I would imagine, particularly about where there are children.

Is there any reason why this is a beach where it's unlikely that children will be exposed?

It's not even quite a beach. It's a bathing area. But it is at the side of a cliff and it wouldn't be very suitable for families and children, in any event.

It could be quite dangerous because it drops into the sea. The sea is quite deep at that point.

So, is it difficult to get to?

Yeah, I think you want to be reasonably fit. You don't have to be terribly fit. But you want to be reasonably fit. 

So you're naked and you're fit when you're going to go down there?

[Laughs] Yeah.

Of course, a lot of the bathers use it throughout the year. Like, even on Christmas Day, they go down there and they swim naked in the sea.

It's being used all the time.

I just always enjoyed swimming, sunbathing, even gardening, anything at all without any clothing.- Pat Gallagher 

How many days can you actually go out on a beach in Ireland and not being wearing your hat, and scarf, and jacket?

There's a bit of a myth about that — that we have this terrible bad weather all the time. We don't. Normally, from May right through to September, we can get reasonably good days.

I always say, "If it's a good enough day for the whole population to get in their cars, trains or buses, go to the nearest beach, and strip down to a small swimwear, then it's good enough for us to go to the beach and not wear the swimwear."

(Scott Heppell/AFP/Getty Images)

Why is this so important to you?

Personally, I just discovered this many years ago, on a small quiet beach.

Having come out of the water, I had wet swimming trunks. I lay down in the sand. The sand stuck all over to it. Since no one else was around, I simply took it off.

I toweled myself down and I discovered that I never ever really needed to wear these swimming trunks. It was only just there for other people's, I don't know, sense of shame or something like that.

Since then, I just always enjoyed swimming, sunbathing, even gardening, anything at all without any clothing.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Pat Gallagher.

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