Glenalbyn pool must reopen for all ages in Stillorgan, say locals

High property tax in Stillorgan should be used to upgrade pool, says local

Glenalbyn Swimming Pool, Stillorgan, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

At the car park outside Kilmacud Crokes GAA grounds in south Dublin, Joe Sweeney stamps his feet to keep warm while waiting for his grandson to finish basketball practice. Across the yard, the Glenalbyn swimming pool stands empty.

Mr Sweeney says the decision to close the pool was “complete nonsense”, adding that the 30-metre pool was used by locals on a regular basis.

Glenalbyn pool was closed in December 2013 after a health and safety report identified significant structural defects in the building's roof. The ageing status of the population of Stillorgan means plans to spend €10 million on refurbishing the pool may not go ahead.

“I think it was a knee-jerk reaction,” says Mr Sweeney. “Granted there are cosmetic things wrong with it inside, problems with the tiles and all that, but I think the roof was blown out of all proportion.


"They moan that they've no money. They have here one of the best areas in Ireland for paying property tax. If the local authority can't release money to upgrade facilities like that in an area that you're paying for it, what chance have you got?"

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council last year ringfenced the money to redevelop or rebuild the pool, but a new “business case” report warned of potential pitfalls – including the apparently significant statistic that almost half of the population of Stillorgan was more than 40 years of age.

“I would have thought there’s more and more young families moving into an area like this,” says Jackie Candon from Clonskeagh, adding that the swimming pool is an important resource for a number of schools across south Dublin.

“It’s not just serving the immediate Stillorgan area. Our kids are in school in Goatstown and they used to use it. They’re now going to Monkstown which is miles out of the way.”

“The next nearest pool that direction would be Rathmines and then Meadowbrook and they’re all very spread out so it would be covering a much bigger catchment area than just Stillorgan.”

Even if local people are growing older, a pool is an important facility for all ages, says Ms Candon.

“I swim in UCD and I’ve never seen swimming as popular as it is at the moment and a lot of it is older people. People are using it as a type of aerobic exercise.”

On the edge of the GAA grounds, Maureen Dooley and Bernie Tracy take shelter inside the cosy Village Café.

Ms Tracy finds it insulting that the local council would close the pool on permanent basis due to the older age demographic.

“Blackrock and Stillorgan are ageing but they’re still encouraging older people to use pools,” she says. “You don’t even have to swim, just get in the pool and move around.”

“Socially it was great for people to meet and have your social activity as part of your physical exercise,” says Ms Dooley. “It’s a terrible shame that they have left such an amazing facility. It’s been here a long, long time.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast