From oyster bed to your bath

A seaweek soak in Ring, Co Waterford


Even on a cloudy day, Dungarvan Bay, in Co Waterford, is a vaulted cathedral where the sea mirrors the sky. The horizon, looking west across the bay from Helvick Pier, is a flash of brilliance in the evening light. I imagine the long seaweed tresses swishing back and forth deep under the waters of this wide coastal inlet. Even as I head into a newly- opened seaweed bathhouse on the pier, I feel myself begin to unwind.

Half a dozen trawlers are moored at the quayside. Fishermen call to one another. I remember the nightly auction of fish in this very quayside building when it was a draughty and smelly place. But when I step through the newly-opened doors of Sólás na Mara, meaning solace of the sea, I see the new environment of calm and cleanliness that has been created.

Co-owners Cian Ó Conchúir and Caroline Gordon, specialists in their respective fields of physiotherapy and physical therapy, knew what they were about when they located this bathhouse and rehabilitative centre here.

After they’d researched their idea of a modern healthcare facility that embraced the traditional curative methods associated with the sea, and having met standards of excellence set by the Department of the Marine, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the EU, their dream was realised and Sólás na Mara opened for business last May.

The two claim it’s the only bathhouse in the southeast corner of Ireland using sea-water in its baths. I glimpse the heating system that boils the seawater. There’s an elaborate filtering system in place too.

Then I am ushered in to one of the five private suites. The single charge of €30 allows me to use the gym also: I can soak or sweat for as long as I want.

As recommended, I sit in the room’s cedarwood steam box for 10 minutes. Then I put my toes into the piping hot bath of filtered seawater. The green tendrils of seaweed are long and sinuous, like something a mermaid might trace through her hair. The water is the colour of black tea and I love it. I drift in and out of a reverie that has me floating in waters somewhere off Tahiti.

Many people feel the benefits of a seaweed bath in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and a range of skin complaints. There are complementary health treatments on offer here too, including physical and/or sports rehabilitative therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and clinical iridology.

The seaweed, which is rich in essential oils and treated at the bathhouse before use, comes from local oyster beds in the bay. Afterwards, it is passed on to local farmers and garden centres. As I pass by the coffee dock on my way out, I feel so revitalised and refreshed that I think I may even use the gym the next time.

For more information, or to book, visit, tel: 058-46052, or contact

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