Merrion Pier and Baths, Sandymount

Merrion Pier and Baths in Sandymount used to be a big attraction for Dubliners. The pier and outdoor sea water baths opened on 28 July 1883.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

Merrion Pier and Baths, Sandymount

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Dubliners loved going to Sandymount Strand for a day out. Firstly, it was easy to get there because the new tram, the first of which ran from Rathgar to College Green in 1872, connected O’Connell Street with Sandymount. These first trams were drawn by horses but from 1899 onwards used electricity. And secondly, located just beyond Sandymount Martello Tower, was the big attraction: the new beautiful pier and outdoor sea water baths which were opened on 28 July 1883.

With the help of a gas engine, the baths were filled with fresh sea water every morning and emptied again in the evening. They were divided for ladies and gentlemen: the men’s baths were 120 by 80 feet but the women’s baths were only 120 by 40 feet – men and women were not treated equally!

A newspaper article from 1875 describes how women took to the water: they “emerged from the dressing box and rushed over the shallow water” because their “attire” was “skimp”. So really they were a bit shy because they only had their swim suits on!  Their swim suits were called ‘bloomer dresses’ after Amelia Bloomer, the American woman who had invented them.

Now they didn’t dress like you or me today. When walking on the promenade, the ladies wore “linen costumes, yachting jackets, the latest hats and pretty shoes” whereas the men wore “blue serge suits and canvas shoes”.

At the end of the pier was a bandstand where concerts were staged on Tuesdays and Saturdays and there were food stalls, selling delicacies such as cockles and mussels.

The pier was still there around 1900 but by the 1920s had deteriorated to such an extent that it was demolished.

If you go for a walk along Sandymount promenade today, you can still see the remains of the baths out in the sand.

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