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The Emerald Isle, not known for public nudity, has now joined Spain, France, Italy and Croatia in the top ranks of nudist beaches.

The south west of the country is particularly popular with nude sunbathers who enjoy the benign climate courtesy of the Gulf Stream.

Fans say that Ireland's climate is actually perfect for nude beach-going but before you start stripping off, you may want to check who is around you. There are no officially approved naturist beaches in Ireland and therefore, nude swimming or sunbathing on a public Irish beach is still illegal. 

The group Irish Naturism believe there are places where it is tolerated, however, as long as you are discreet and heed any warnings.

These are the top five destinations in Ireland as reported by nude beach lovers!

1. Silver Strand Beach, Barna, County Galway


Silver Strand is about four miles away from Galway and naturists flock to the small beach just off the main beach. To access the nudist beach, walk for about 20 minutes on the stone path. The perfectly quiet beach is in a beautiful setting and well worth the walk to get there.

2. Roundstone, County Galway


This beach, which is surrounded by stunning scenery including rivers, beaches lakes and mountains, is off the Galway – Clifden road at the exit marked Roundstone.

Naturists must walk the full length of the beach and then take a path up the hill to a gate. Another path leads across the headland from the gate to a sandy cove which is barely visible until you are nearly on top of it.

3. West Cork, County Cork

Stunning West Cork offers dozens of quiet and secluded coves. Perfect destinations include the eastern and western sides of Clonakilty Bay, Dunowen with its rocky cliffs, Dunny Cove and Sands Cove while Glandore includes the famous rocky Prison Cove that is a long-accepted haven for naturists.

Naturists can also explore Simons Cove, Roaring Water Bay, Lough Hyne and the magnificent Beara peninsula which have many deserted beaches for nude beach lovers.

4. Corballis, Donabate, County Dublin

Corballis is just off the busy M1 motorway which links Dublin to Belfast. The beach can be accessed by driving through Donabate to the beach itself. Naturists should park as far down the beach as possible but be careful of the soft sand when parking. Once parked, just walk down the beach for about 20 minutes until you come to the secluded area.

Another option is to drive towards Donabate but turn right at the signpost for the Island Golf Club and Corballis Golf Club. There is a small lay by just before the entrance to the golf club where cars can be parked. Walk through the gate and follow the path over the dunes until you reach the beach. Once there, turn right and walk for another 15 minutes to the restful naturist area.

5. Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow

Brittas Bay is said to be one of the best naturist beaches on the east coast. It is certainly the most popular. The main beach is clothes-only and attracts campers and caravans at the weekend and during national holidays.  The naturist beach, which is some two miles south of the main beach, is long and sandy, backed by large dunes but with a stony strip between the dunes and the water.

To get there, take the Junction 7 of the main Dublin-Wexford M11 south motorway, nine miles south of Rathnew. Follow the signpost for Jack White’s Cross and Pub and take the road until you can go no further. Take the turn right and follow the coast for about 2 miles until you come to an area marked "Buckrooney."

This area is gated and once you are through the gate, turn left and walk on the beach until you reach the fencing area on the dunes. This area is for naturists, however, the INA cautions that nude beach goers should not venture outside the protected area as the beach is so popular with clothed families.

For more information, contact the Irish Naturist Association (www.irishnaturism.org).

* Originally published in 2010.