Poolside pleasure: 10 great outdoor swimming pools around Ireland

Poolside summer fun without having to travel abroad? Count us in

I think we can all agree that Irish weather is not always conducive to frolicking by an outdoor pool, but if global warming has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected when it comes to the inclement Irish climate.

It doesn’t feel like that long ago when the idea of an outdoor pool in Ireland would have been met with thinly veiled incredulity, or more accurately, outright scorn. One thing is for certain, we have come a long way since Rainbow Rapids opened its doors at the original Dún Laoghaire Baths back in the 1980s.

These days, outdoor pools in Ireland are more frozen daiquiri, less Fanta orange, with a host of outdoor bathing opportunities available – from hotel pools to self-catering swims, to public baths and private pools. Dip in.

Glasson Lakehouse

Glasson, Co Westmeath; glassonlakehouse.ie

The Press Up Group’s Westmeath outpost, Glasson Lakehouse, is perfectly positioned for all things water related on the edge of Glasson’s many lakes, about a two-hour drive from Dublin. There is an abundance of outdoor activities to tempt even the least outdoorsy among us, including lake boats, paddle boarding, kayaking, golf and cycling.

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But if we are being honest with ourselves, the picture perfect outdoor pool is where you really want to be on a hot summer’s day. The year-round heated pool has magnificent, uninterrupted views over the lake and is bordered by sleek pool loungers, perfect for preening, posing or snoozing after a swim. Of course, in a setting like this, poolside cocktails (either with or sans alcohol) are a must. From €239 per room per night

Ardnavaha Poolside Cottages

Clonakilty, Co Cork; ardnavaha.ie

It’s not as if we needed another reason to visit Clonakilty, but regardless, Ardnavaha Poolside Cottages has just given us a very valid one. Located in a charming wooded valley, Ardnavaha is just a five-minute drive from Clonakilty, with its array of restaurants and pubs, and the captivating Inchydoney Island with its pristine sandy beaches.

Six well-equipped poolside stone cottages line a courtyard where the seasonal outdoor heated swimming pool is located, complete with sun loungers and that ever elusive silence. Ardnavaha is situated on eight acres of gardens which include a walled garden, a croquet lawn, an old orchard and a tennis court. To the front of the house is a gently sloping lawn which brings you to a picnic perfect lake. From €115 per night with a two-night minimum stay

Ballymaloe House

Shanagarry, Co Cork; ballymaloe.ie

Ballymaloe House needs no introduction, being the doyenne of the Irish culinary landscape for as long as we can remember. The food, the gardens and the location all fuse together to create something memorable and very special. Then you go and add a sunny day and a magical biomass-heated seasonal outdoor pool to the equation and things are taken up another notch.

During the winter months, the groundsman Tobias creates a nature reserve in the pool complete with a ramp, to home aquatic life safely. Come April, remaining wildlife (usually tadpoles and frogs) are carefully rehomed to the pond by Tobias before the summer pool clean-up commences. From €385 per room per night

Clontarf Outdoor Pool

Clontarf, Dublin 3; clontarfoutdoorpool.com

In the coastal suburb of Clontarf, just 3km north of Dublin city centre, Clontarf Outdoor Pool is a popular community gathering spot offering an invigorating escape from Dublin city on a hot summer’s afternoon. With its stunning beachfront location overlooking Dublin Bay, the pool is well-maintained and facilities include a large Olympic-sized swimming area, water activities and sunbathing opportunities on the spacious deck.

Given its location, the pool at Clontarf is exceedingly popular but you can book aqua aerobics or a two-hour swimming slot in advance. The weather app has never been so invaluable. €10 per person

Farnham Estate Spa and Golf Resort

Co Cavan; farnhamestate.ie

The best way to enjoy a stunning outdoor infinity pool has to be while surrounded by 1,300 acres of tranquil, private grounds, deep in the heart of the Irish countryside. As luck would have it, that is exactly what you will find at Farnham Estate in Co Cavan. Other draws to this impressive hideaway include the breathtaking spa, the highly rated food (courtesy of chef Philipe Farineau, formerly of Ashford Castle), the stunning grounds and an impressive array of activities. But did I mention the infinity pool? From €189 per room per night

Sunnybank House

Clifden, Co Galway; connemararentals.com

Who knew there was a historic country house available to rent in its entirety on a self-catering basis overlooking the beautiful town of Clifden? Or that said property was expansive enough to accommodate up to 24 guests, a mere two minutes’ walk from the town, with outdoor dining and barbecue facilities, an outdoor heated swimming pool, stunning terrace and a sauna?

Small weddings, a family get-together, holidays with friends; whatever the occasion, Sunnybank House is a staycationers’ dream, with an outdoor pool and terrace that would look more at home in Mallorca, yet somehow manages to fit seamlessly into the Galway landscape. From €5,000 per week

The Europe Hotel and Resort

Killarney, Co Kerry; theeurope.com

The pool at The Europe Hotel in Killarney is located on the “Active Level”, although we’re not sure how active we would be in this particular setting. The indoor/outdoor infinity pool is an oasis of calm in the heart of the beautiful Kerry countryside, with panoramic views of the lakes and mountains.

The ideal spot for a refreshing swim or simply lounging poolside on one of the many sunbeds, the pool manages to blend contemporary design with the natural landscape, making it the perfect place to while away an afternoon under the Kerry sun. The best part? Should the weather decide to be temperamental, there is no dashing for a towel required, just swim your way back to shelter. From €360 per room per night

The Rabbit Hotel

Templepatrick, Co Antrim; rabbithotel.com

Realistically, the outdoor pool at the Insta-worthy Rabbit Hotel just outside Belfast is more Roman baths with glass wall and added disco ball than family resort pool, but by all accounts, it lives up to the hype.

Promising “a mix of sophisticated luxury and bohemian glam” and “laid-back Balearic vibes and a chilled party playlist”, we can safely agree that this is not one for the floaties or the pool rings. If, however, a pool party with dinner, drinks and a DJ is your thing, this is perfect place to indulge. Private pool parties can be arranged and honestly, they sound like lots of fun. From €206 per room per night

Renvyle House Hotel

Renvyle, Co Galway; renvyle.com

Another jewel in Connemara’s glittering crown, Renvyle House has been welcoming lucky visitors since the late 1920s, when the then-owner Oliver St John Gogarty rebuilt it in the arts and crafts design of the era and opened it as a hotel. A historic country house hotel set on 150 acres, Renvyle has its own freshwater lake, a 1km shoreline on the Atlantic, woodland, parkland, and meadow habitats.

Add to that an award-winning diningroom and, the piece de resistance, an outdoor heated swimming pool which is surrounded by an expanse of greenery and tropical foliage and open all year round. From €85 per person per night

Ballinakill Outdoor Pool

Ballinakill, Co Laois; ballinakilloutdoorswimmingpool.com

Oh, what seven-year-old me would have given for Ballinakill Outdoor Pool all those years ago as I ran around the garden being chased by my dad with a hose. While hotel pools are all well and good, scheduling a trip while considering the fickle Irish weather is always a gamble.

Located just outside Abbeyleix, the Ballinakill Outdoor Pool is open to the public seasonally from June to September, and is especially popular on a sunny day. Individual slots can be booked in advance and family (or single) season tickets are also available. From €4 per person, season tickets from €100