The search begins for the site of a new Cork Lido


An ambitious proposal to create a lido in Cork City will involve a trawl of potential sites over an area stretching from the bridge of the Anglers Rest Bar and Restaurant in Carrigrohane to the village of Blackrock.

Paul Collins, director of Malachy Walsh and Partners (MWP), said both sides of the river will be considered for the 50m outdoor pool, along with a number of indoor venues including Tramore Valley Park.

The firm has been commissioned to undertake a feasibility study on the prospect of a lido for the city at a time when other major cities around the world are also scrambling to open their rivers to swimmers including London, Paris and Manhattan.

Artist’s impression of a +Pool, reserved near the Manhattan Bridge

Mr Collins, the study’s project manager, said the survey will involve physical visits to potential sites, not just a desk exercise.

“We will look at it from an engineering, environmental, cost, site location, access and planning perspective,” he said.

He expects the investigation to take 10-12 weeks once they receive the green light from Cork City Council. The council has already agreed to be the lead sponsor of the study and a workshop is due to take place soon between city officials, MWP and Lido Cork (@LidoCork), the group leading the lido campaign . If the project is approved by council, the next step would be planning, Mr Collins said.

He added that the site in question does “not necessarily” need to be adjacent to the river, but that bringing it inland to a place like Tramore Valley Park meant that supply and processing “would be a problem”.

Kumpula Outdoor Pool in Helsinki - could something similar work in Tramore Valley Park?
Kumpula Outdoor Pool in Helsinki – could something similar work in Tramore Valley Park?

He said ideally it would be somewhere with pedestrian and cycle access. Asked if it would work near the new Blackrock Pier and Village Square, Mr Collins said the area may be too small – however, with Tivoli Docks container traffic and d ‘Other services to be transferred to Ringaskiddy could open up the possibility a new pedestrian bridge linking the two sides of the river has been installed,’ Mr Collins said.

Niall Kenny, an open water marathon swimmer and member of the Lido Cork Campaign’s Committee of Seven Leaders, said their vision was a resource that would help build community in the city, bringing people together for outdoor leisure activities air.

“There’s a need for something in the city outside of the bike lanes,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think the bike paths are wonderful, but a lido, accessible to everyone, would help create a community based around swimming – and I know not all family members swim – so maybe be that there might be other activities around it. also, like yoga and

There were good examples of expanded activities around beaches in other countries, he said, for example at Allas Seapool in Helsinki, Finland, and Harbor Bath in Aarhus, Denmark, where there are bars and cafes and volleyball courts, as well as a 50m swimming pool, diving pool, children’s pools and two saunas.

Allas Seapool in Helsinki
Allas Seapool in Helsinki
Floating pool complex in Aarhus, Denmark
Floating pool complex in Aarhus, Denmark

Mr Kenny said he liked the idea of ​​Kennedy Quay as a location for a lido, as it was so close to the town centre, and also in light of O’Callaghan Properties’ ambitious plans for a 350 million euros for the southern quay, which – in time and subject to planning permission – will include 2,000 housing units. A quayside lido would create a focal point as well as a leisure activity for the community that lives there.

Mr Kenny said other possible sites could be the marina – currently being refurbished and redeveloped as part of a plan by the city council, which recently saw the opening of Marina Park – or the site of the former unheated and untreated Lee’s Baths, once the city’s main public swimming pool, on the site of the present Kingsley Hotel.

It closed in 1986, having operated since 1934.

Lee Baths, Carrigrohane Road, Cork 1951
Lee Baths, Carrigrohane Road, Cork 1951

As sports lawyer Tim O’Connor pointed out in a recent tweet: “Lidos were one of those great ideas of the 1920s/1930s that fell out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s, and that we and others will painfully rediscover only now when we have taken away those we had.

“It’s no different to how we’ve treated trams and trains, in that respect.”

Demolition of Lee Baths in the 1990s
Demolition of Lee Baths in the 1990s

The Lido Cork campaign is supported by Swim Ireland, the governing body for swimming.

In a statement, chief operating officer Mary McMorrow said they were ‘very supportive of the campaign for a lido in Cork City’, particularly in light of the importance of outdoor leisure spaces and facilities. air in today’s public health landscape.

“There has been a significant increase in interest in open water swimming throughout the pandemic, a trend that is continuing,” she said.

“An outdoor pool is the perfect starting point for new people to start swimming in open water, and swimming is a gateway sport to many other water activities.”

She added that a lido would “boost the economic potential of the unique maritime city of Cork”. It would also create “tremendous potential” for staging large-scale events in a 50m outdoor pool, Ms McMorrow said, adding that “swimming is an easily accessible sport in the context of leisure, whatever the social or economic status, and we see significant demand for our outdoor programs from people of all skill levels and abilities.”

Although Cork City Council is helping to fund the feasibility study, it was not ready to comment further, other than to say a meeting is due to take place shortly to discuss the project.

“It is too early to comment further,” a spokesperson said.

Mr Collins said the prospect of a lido for the city was ‘very exciting and a great idea for Cork’, but added it was ‘early days’.

Campaigns for lidos are underway in cities around the world, including London, where Thames Baths, a social enterprise, was set up to provide London’s first public floating lido since 1875.

Studio Octopi architects created Thames Baths as a vehicle to campaign for the reintroduction of swimming in the Thames.

Artist's impression of what a lido on the Thames might look like (Thames Baths)
Artist’s impression of what a lido on the Thames might look like (Thames Baths)

In Paris, a canal that flows into the Seine was equipped with an outdoor swimming pool in 2018 and has been a huge success, attracting tens of thousands of bathers to the Bassin de la Villette. City officials have since said they expect the Seine to host open water triathlons when the Olympics take place in the city in 2024.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, after years of activists advocating for river swimming, plans are now afloat for “+POOL”, a plus-shaped swimming pool.
floating filter pool, designed to filter the river in which it floats through the walls of the pool, allowing swimming in clean river water.

Last year, city officials approved a location for the +POOL, in the East River, just north of the Manhattan Bridge on the Lower East Side.

Those behind worked on the structure with Arup engineers and describe it as “a giant strainer dropped into the river”, which “filters river water within its walls, removing bacteria, contaminants and odors, leaving only safe, swimmable water that meets local and national standards.

Carrignavar public outdoor swimming pool
Carrignavar public outdoor swimming pool

Mr Kenny said an alternative to the +POOL concept would be to use reed beds as a natural filtration system if the lido was developed in the River Lee, where the water quality was “not as bad that it is still painted”, especially since the opening of a new pumping station in Cobh last year, ending the practice of pumping raw sewage into the port.

If Tramore Valley Park were a viable location, the pool could be heated using an underground heat transfer pump, he said. He said the UK has half a dozen outdoor pools which are “far from a river, and they work very well”.

Cork already has a heated outdoor swimming pool in Carrignavar, one of three heated outdoor public swimming pools in the country, and it has proven very popular, particularly during the pandemic.


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