Naturists get a bum deal in Ireland, delegates told

Twenty five countries represented at International Naturist Congress in Leitrim

The 34th International Naturists Congress, Lough Allen Hotel, Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, runs until Sunday. Photograph: Brian Farrell

The 34th International Naturists Congress, Lough Allen Hotel, Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, runs until Sunday. Photograph: Brian Farrell

 

The Irish tourist industry would be better able to woo the “buff pound” if there were more approved beaches for naturists and less uncertainty about the law surrounding nudity, a conference has heard.

Delegates from 25 countries are attending the International Naturist Congress in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, which continues until Sunday.

At the opening reception today, vice-president of the international organisation, Mike Ayers, said that although Ireland was generally a welcoming country “it has not a lot to offer naturists” despite the huge tourism potential the sector provides.

Eamon Scully of the Irish Naturist Association said it was no coincidence that France, the US and Spain, the top three tourist destinations in the world, had such highly developed naturist facilities.

“We are not suggesting that naturists would flock to Ireland if the legal situation became clearer,” said the Dubliner. “However we are convinced that the lack of approved facilities is stopping naturists from visiting Ireland.”

High spending

The INA representatives said naturist tourists tended to be high spending and environmentally friendly. “We believe we should leave nothing but our footprints behind”.

When the conference opened at the Lough Allen Hotel, Mr Ayers made a number of housekeeping announcements, during which he pointed out that nudity was permitted in the conference room and boardwalk, as well as in the pool and the spa during the designated periods.

“Obviously beyond that door is the public bar so nudity is restricted – if you want to go out on the boardwalk with a cup of coffee that is okay,” he told delegates. About one-third of his audience were naked.

While nudity was restricted to certain areas of the hotel, a small number of delegates who gathered at the edge of the lake in the hot afternoon sun for an impromptu photo shoot, barely attracted a second glance from visitors or staff. For a brief interlude a small group of teenage boys hovered outside close to the hotel entrance, whistling enthusiastically each time someone left the building but they soon got bored.