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Plans for €15 million floating pool on River Liffey near white-water rafting facility in Dublin city centre

It stems from interest by councillors and the public when the controversial white-water rafting facility was announced.

Site of proposed facility at Custom's House Quay.
Site of proposed facility at Custom's House Quay.
Image: DCC

A NEW €15 MILLION heated outdoor pool on the River Liffey, adjacent to the where the new white-water rafting facility will be, has been proposed by Dublin City Council.

The project, according to the Docklands Development Office, stems from interest expressed by council members and the public in developing an outdoor pool in the city centre during discussions around the controversial white-water rafting project at George’s Dock last November. 

That white-water rafting proposal drew criticism from councillors who suggested the €22 million required to fund the project could be better spent in developing housing and infrastructure.

If approved by councillors on Dublin City Council, the sea pool facility would see an outdoor swimming pool around 50 metres long and up to 15 metres wide on a floating platform on the river at Custom’s House Quay. 

It would also include an adjoining building which would host changing rooms, a cafe, yoga rooms, and general meeting rooms. 

“It is also recommended that saunas are a significant feature of this public amenity,” a report from the Docklands Office said. 

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 11.45.54 The new attraction will be modelled on the Helsinki facility in Finland.

Dublin City Council expects the cost of developing the project would be covered by “reputable private operators” who would “take on total responsibility for the project” and design, build, operate and fund it in exchange for a 30 year licence. 

When that licence expires, the council suggested it could take over operation of the facility or require the operator to remove the entire infrastructure. 

In its feasibility report, the council pointed to a similar facility in Helsinki, Finland developed in 2014 and which the Dublin council determined to be a “social and economic success”. 

It also pointed to similar facilities in Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and a proposed facility in New York. 

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 13.51.52 Mock up of what the facility might look like. Source: Dublin City Council

A number of sites in Dublin were identified as possible locations for the attraction but were later shelved, including Spencer Dock which was thought to be “too small”, and the North Quay’s near the 3Arena, which was though to be “too far from the city centre”. 

Docklands Area Manager Derek Kelly said the Custom’s House Quay location was the optimum site for the project.

“This location would develop Custom House Quay into a hub for water based recreational activity in the city and will help to achieve the City Councils ambitions for the animation of the water bodies within the Docklands,” he said.

Labour Cllr Dermot Lacey, who voted in favour of the white-water rafting facility last year, said he would be open to the idea of a floating pool, suggesting waterways around Dublin have been under-utilised.

“I believe that we underuse and under-appreciate our waterways and that we should be identifying new ways of using them and the second point is in general, I’m in favour of big projects and big initiatives.”

Development of the white-water rafting facility in George’s Dock was expected to get underway in the second-half of this year but will likely be delayed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

white water The white-water rafting facility due to be developed on George's Dock.

The facility in Dublin’s IFSC was given the green light after almost two-thirds of councillors from Dublin City Council threw their support behind it at a meeting in December. 

Dublin City Council said the planned development of the white water rafting facility along with the nearby EPIC Emigration Museum and the Jeanie Johnston attractions, could be combined with the new Sea Pool to draw tourists into the area. 

It expects visitors to number at around 800,000 based on the numbers visiting the Helsinki facility in Finland.  

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TheJournal.ie reporter Conor McCrave, Green Party TD Patrick Costello, and kayak slalom champion Samuel Curtis discussed the ins and outs of the white-water rafting project in December – what the facility itself would consist of, its main benefits, how the scope for developing the site in other ways is somewhat limited, as well as the main criticisms it has faced.


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