Public won't be able to go for a dip at reopened seawater baths
Dublin City Council has ruled out contributing to the costs of running the new Clontarf seawater baths so that it can be opened up to the general public, and not just clubs.
The 132-year-old baths has been redeveloped, along with the bar and restaurant, and is preparing to reopen.
Publican and hotelier David Cullen, who has had a 25-year-long dream to relaunch the baths, was in the Circuit Civil Court this week to see the development granted a publican's licence.
However, because of hefty expenses to run the pool it will initially be opened up only to clubs who can provide their own insurance and lifeguards.
Rita Barcoe, operations director for the Cullen family, told the Herald that the restaurant would reopen next week, with the pool opening to swimming and sports clubs in late April, when the weather improved a little.
"The reason we have to do that initially is because we need to see exactly what we need to facilitate the public," she said.
"I costed it and to just run it part-time would be €400,000 per annum.
"That would be full-time during the summer, part-time during the 'shoulder months' of summer and then closed in winter."
The figure would include staff, insurance and maintenance costs, Ms Barcoe added.
"So we are initially going to try clubs, because they would have their own insurance. They will have their own lifeguard, if they need.
"They will have booked their time slot, and we will be expecting them, so it's easier for us to staff.
"While we are servicing clubs and sports clubs, it will give us a better understanding of what we can and can't do, as far as somebody simply walking in to have a swim."
She said to open up the pool fully to the public eventually was "their greatest wish", but they were trying to see if they could find some funding.
Ms Barcoe said Dublin City Council and the North Central Area Committee, which is made up of councillors from the area, were among the organisations that had been approached.
She said she hoped to make the baths accessible to as many people as possible.
But something like three weeks of rain while the pool was fully staffed could prove very costly, she added.
The pool is the same temperature as Dublin Bay, or maybe a degree or two warmer.
"We will try and open for key dates so that everybody could have that wonderful experience," Ms Barcoe said.
"Even when we do open, we are only going to charge a minimum fee."
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council told the Herald: "Clontarf Baths is a private enterprise and, although there have been informal approaches about subsidising the cost of running the pool, the council is not in a position to do so."