Thru-penny Pool, Bundoran. County Donegal

Bundoran has been a mecca for surfers for decades now yet long before that sports popularity it was a bustling sea resort, for close to two hundred years. From the wide and wild expanse of Tullan Strand, this is the draw for surfers who come in their droves through all seasons. No swimming here with strong waves, currents and rip tides but a walk along the length of this flat strand is a must.

Tullan Strand, Bundoran. County Donegal

Not to be disheartened, there are several spots for the swimmer. The main beach in the town is life-guarded during the summer months, this bay has rocky shelves to either side and signage recommends that you swim in the centre of the bay. To the right, looking out to sea and at the start of the Rougey cliff path which leads to Tullan Strand the rocks provide, at high water, a great spot for jumping.

The Diving Plinth, Bundoran. County Donegal

There used to be diving boards here and the plinth is still functional. A long ladder scales up the rock face beside the plinth, saving jumpers the swim into the small beach area and then walking around over the rocks again. The rocks themselves are curious with fossils that, to the un-trained eye, look like engineered metal parts. Tiny discs that I would have sworn were washers, coiled pieces that are surely springs, short tubes ranging from 2 or millimetres diameter to almost 2 centimetres and fanlike pieces that admittedly are much more organic looking to my ignorant eye.

Fossils, Bundoran. County Donegal

I concocted all sorts of theories to explain this “mechanical debris’” presence moulded into the rock; had there once been a mine here which had suffered and landslide, then perhaps these engineered parts had been so compressed into the rock? (I know, this is a pitiful theory but science was never a strong point for me – but I have imagination! I will also admit to quickly discounting the flimsy theory that perhaps this was the actual site of the aircraft crash circa 1944 on the cliffs near Tullan Strand.) There is a memorial close to the Fairy Bridges which are also worth exploring.

Fossils, Bundoran. County Donegal

On speaking to a local swimmer at the Nuns Pool (we’ll come to it later) and then a quick google search, it seems these are indeed fossils of macro fauna; coral, crinoids and brachiopods… info; Discover Bundoran Geology

Thru-penny Pool, Bundoran. County Donegal

To the left of the beach, again looking out to sea, across the rock reef is the Thrupenny Pool. So named after the cost for a swim, this low-walled sea pool provides a safe haven for nervous swimmers and children. From the promenade sculptures of rolled towels on the wall point the way to the ramp and steps down to the sandy cove and pool. A small cave to one side provides a sheltered changing area but be mindful of the rising tide or your clothes may get wet!

The shallow pool allows for paddling and play, adult swimmers need to be close to the outer wall to get deeper water to complete their laps.

Nuns Pool, Bundoran. County Donegal

Nun’s Pool (or west end pool) is more popular with the locals, or anyone over 4ft tall and lies on the far side of the life-boat station across the rocks. Walking through the town take Shene Avenue down to the coastal path and here steps lead down onto the rocks and the Nuns pool.

This L-shaped pool is also relatively shallow – with only one area I couldn’t stand – at 5’5”. A local swimmer told us “It’s best to check that the tide ranges are around 3m, then the water is freshly changed, at lower tidal ranges the water can sit for days and get a bit smelly!”

For me, the choice would be Nun’s Pool for a relaxing dip and the “diving boards” at high water for exhilaration.

@Paul McCambridge / Bundoran, County Donegal