28 towels and 64 pairs of socks: what people leave behind at Sandycove

One Dublin woman has been collecting abandoned clothes and donating them to charity

The long laundry list of items abandoned beside Sandycove beach and the nearby Forty Foot in south Dublin one day last week included 28 towels and 64 pairs of socks.

Ailish McDonnell has “lost count” of the items she has picked up. “I’m a year-round swimmer and the beach is always spotless in winter but as soon as the sunshine comes out, it brings out lots of people who want to enjoy the water.

“I went down at 4am on June 21st as I was awake and picked up an array of clothing items. I picked up all the clothes and bagged them and after a wash at home, they are as good as new. I then take them to the local charity shop.

“There were 28 towels so that’s definitely more than one towel an hour abandoned. There were 64 pairs of socks, another basket of odd socks,” she said.


"There are male swimming togs and just general clothes like runners. If there is a heatwave like there was last week in Ireland, then we might find double this, I'm not the only one who collects the clothing so I don't want to take all the credit for this."

Increased volume

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said its cleansing section has noted an increased volume of personal belongings being left on beaches and other swimming locations this year.

“Clothing and textiles discarded on beaches are treated as litter by the cleansing section staff as there is no alternative disposal method currently in place for storing and recycling them.”

Ms McDonnell said all swimmers are welcome on beaches but should be prepared to clean up after themselves.

“If people were just a little more conscious of the impact they are making on the beach, then we would all be a little happier. The local charity shop is happy with the donations but people need to be more caring of our lovely beaches.”

Increase in litter

The Clean Coasts Programme, which is run by An Taisce, is encouraging beach goers to respect the environment when visiting the beaches.

“The key message that we want to get across is that people bring home what they bring to the beaches. We have seen a notable increase in litter over the summer months with everything from nappies to beach towels.

“We want people to be more aware of the environment and their surroundings.”