Summer Snaps: A pool in 1970s Ireland

The Clyde Road water feature was an attraction for our friends and cousins

Rachel Fehily clinging nervously to her cousin Margaret; her brother Morgan and sister Jane playing happily on a lilo; and another cousin, Catherine, at the steps

Rachel Fehily clinging nervously to her cousin Margaret; her brother Morgan and sister Jane playing happily on a lilo; and another cousin, Catherine, at the steps


This picture was taken of us swimming in the pool in our back garden on Clyde Road in Dublin in 1974, probably by my father. I have no idea where my parents got the pool from, as I’m pretty sure they weren’t making big plastic and metal above-ground pools in Ireland in the 1970s.

My parents had lived and worked as architects in the US for a few years before they settled back in Ireland, so maybe that’s where they got the idea of installing a swimming pool without having to dig a big hole. I can’t remember anyone else having one in those days, which is probably why it was a bit of an attraction for our friends and cousins.

We were seven children in our family and we had two huge dogs and sometimes we’d carry them up the pool steps and we’d all get in together to cool off. In the picture my brother Morgan and sister Jane are playing happily and full of confidence on a lilo while I’m clinging nervously to my cousin Margaret and my other cousin Catherine is coming down the steps.

I remember being scared of the pool that summer because we had a mischievous French exchange student staying. He used to regularly terrorise the younger children, and one day thought it would be hilarious to throw me in. I wasn’t wearing arm bands and plunged right under the water. I had to be rescued by one of my siblings. After that fright I was understandably wary of the water. Luckily the fear didn’t stay with me and to this day I love swimming in the sea, lakes or pools or anywhere else I can.

In the autumn the leaves from the surrounding trees would fall into the pool and when we finally got around to draining out the water, there was a slushy mess of muddy leaves left at the bottom. We used to slide around in the mud before we cleaned it up and put the cover on and that was nearly as much fun as swimming in the pool.

My parents have retired to Co Westmeath, where they can watch the sun set over the lake in a house they designed. There is no need for swimming pools; on hot days my children, friends, cousins and even my parents and my dog can swim together in the beautiful still water of the lake.

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