It’s a treat to be enjoyed on a cold winter day on the West coast of Ireland when even your bones feel frozen. Waves roll onto Enniscrone beach followed by a wind that just won’t stop blowing. You might get a bit of shelter on one of the benches along the promenade if you point the right way, but there’s always that suggestion of rain that might just be spray from the waves, but might just as easily be actual rain. A cup of coffee won’t really do you that much good and it’s too early for whiskey, so take a while to wallow in Kilcullen’s seaweed baths and you’ll forget all that grey winter outside. The summer can be just as cold and grey.
The bath house sits on the road along the promenade looking out over the long beach. It’s old, Edwardian I think, and purposely not modernised, but so well-kept. There are the usual expensive pampering products to buy but they’re optional and unnecessary. Just call in on a whim, without an appointment, towels and whatever else you might need are provided.
An attendant draws the bath and leaves you to it in your private bathroom after giving instructions. The first stage is to sit in the old-fashioned, cedar wood steam box with your head sticking out. The amount of steam is controlled by a leaver inside the box so you have as much or as little as you can tolerate.
When you’ve been sufficiently well steamed you get out and climb into the ancient, big glazed porcelain bath filled with roasting hot water and armfuls of squelchy seaweed. Sink into it, lie back and rest your head on the back of the bath with your head just above the water, close your eyes and luxuriate. Concentrate on the different textures of the weed, rub the stuff over your body, do whatever comes to mind.
When the novelty runs off or when you get bored just get back in the steam box and let your imagination run away with you. Luxuriate some more. Take as much time as you want, there’s no limit. Top up the bath with more hot water and take a freezing cold shower of sea water, or don’t. Go from the steam to the bath and the shower as often as you want. There’s no right or wrong way, just lie there and enjoy and come back for more.