THE BEST IRISH NATURIST BITS OF THE PANDEMIC YEAR
2020 was a year of novelties, opportunities and change for Irish Naturism.
We started January with record numbers: We sold nearly 150 free tickets to attend our info evening on naturist Spain at the Spanish Cultural Institute in the heart of Dublin. The Tourism attaché from the Spanish Embassy in Ireland presented the features of an impressive series of naturist beaches in Spain, elaborating also on events and accommodation. While this was a textile event, we also recorded the highest number of attendants at one of our private nudist pool bookings: 52 people enjoyed naked swimming end January at one of our best collaborating venues, the magnificent Monaghan Leisure Centre with main & kids pool, slide, elegant spa area with jacuzzi, sauna and steam-room, and even complimentary tea/coffee/biscuits.
In February a dozen of us visited one of Glasgow’s hidden gems: the unique Arlington Baths, a community swimming club considered to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Founded in 1870 and run by members on a not for profit basis, it houses a 21 metre skylit swimming pond unsually equipped with a flying trapeze and travelling rings, a spectacular Turkish suite, saunas, steam room, free standing slipper baths and hot tubs, a stylish members lounge with newspapers, tea and coffee, and a bright, state of the art gymnasium.We were enthuastically welcomed by the volunteers of the Sunday Swim, the club that hires this quaint building every Sunday for the purpose of nude recreation. They held a special reception in our honour, having ordered delicious cakes with the inscription “Fáilte!”
It was definitely a memorable trip, we made friends and took with us inspiration for future British incursions.
Domestically, we were very proud of renewing our collaboration with Fermoy Leisure Centre, also boasting with its attendance record. And we would have had another first with the addition of Portarlington Leisure Centre to our portfolio, but our April booking had to be cancelled.
However, the pandemic only paralysed us in the first weeks of total lockdown in March/April. After that initial shock we promptly copied the leading example of British Naturism and started to organise online events. Thanks to our fantastic international network, we could benefit from the many BN’s fitness sessions for INF members in addition to our own online sessions: virtual pub and coffee hour for members, Spanish lessons for the naturist holiday, general info talks and international sessions exploring naturism in a few corners of the planet: Mexico, Canada, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Brasil, Portugal, Poland… We were able to count on the Portuguese Embassy’s participation to offer a webinar on naturist Portugal too. All this virtual activity granted us international attention, which translated into a larger followership and also overseas members. Moreover, we tighten our links to other naturist federations.
Covid19 didn’t prevent us from celebrating an array of important dates for us -either individually, in small groups, or online: World Naked Gardening Day, World Naked Day, Women-in-Naturism Month of June, Summer Solstice, September Swim Month, Equinox Celebration, Hallowe’en Full Moon Swim, Winter Solstice Hike, Christmas Swim…
It was also our breakthrough for fitness-on-the-beach activities in Dublin, free of charge and open to anyone. Yoga, qigong, naked movement, silent disco… Our members loved our Corballis and White Rock training sessions, our teachers also became members, and numbers soared; while cocooning meant for our older members to stay home, we had an increasing amount of enquiries by the younger generations. Our Black Friday anc Cyber Monday deals appealed to them, and alongside with our Women-in-Naturism initiatives we brought gender balance to 25/75 in 2020 – but still a long way to normalise social nudity among women, we know.
Our own Irish Spencer Tunick, INA member Ciara Patricia Langan, continued her Coastal Bodies Tour 2020 under strict covid19 hygiene measures: Co. Cork, Co. Kerry, and Co. Clare were visited by a bunch of enthusiastic believers in body positivity and body art expression.
Irish naturists frequent quite a few beaches – one of our videos features a selection of the most traditional naturist locations in Ireland -. After careful monitoring of the reaction to the pandemic situation this year, we awarded the title of BEST CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEACH IN IRELAND 2020 to White Rock Beach in Dalkey/Killiney, Co. Dublin. This location didn’t have to endure overcrowding this year, unlike tiny neighbouring Hawk Cliff, and it strengthened its naturist turnout throughout the summer.
Irish Naturism made headlines in the Irish papers: Irish Times, Irish Independent, Clare Echo… and some more media abroad. The Naked Wanderings and Pam Fraser from British Naturism were also invited to Irish TV. Meanwhile, our YouTube channel saw an addition of 21 new videos during this year, the last of those being a year review! We also experimented with cartoon videos, which might allow us to avoid some censorship.
In November we adopted a seal! A sick and malnourished Réalt was found on the seashore close to Portmarnock. Seal Rescue Ireland is taking good care of him and we are happy to support them. We have named Réalt our official mascot now, and we hope to be able to visit him soon enough.
For the first time ever, we celebrated an online AGM. We thanked outgoing president Pat Gallagher for all his work during the last decades and we named Leticia Medina as our new president of the association.
Finally, we also dabbled in literature this year! We organised our first naturist short-story contest, which attracted 23 entries, more than we had anticipated! A panel of 10 judges is presently reviewing all those Irish naturist stories. We can’t wait to hear the results! And our next enterprise might involve the publication of an anthology!