Swimming in Connemara
For those looking for longer distance, open water swimming, Ballinakill Bay, just below the House is a great spot. The best starting point is the harbour which can be seen from the front door.
The Bay is very sheltered with a very narrow exit so rarely gets too rough. A good point to head for from the harbour is the headland as the bay narrows or a little further on there is a small island with masses of birdlife (They can be very raucous if you approach during nesting Season).
As the bay narrows the tide can be almost equivalent to a slow moving river so be mindful of conditions before heading to the island. At worst you can swim parallel to the shore, which is never too far away and walk back to the wider section. My favourite thing about the bay is that due to being quite shallow, having lots of mud and seaweed, it is always a few degrees warmer than the outer beaches at Renvyle.
It is not the cleanest or most pretty swim, with mud, seaweed and old scallop and oyster farming cages in spots. It can get quite murky after heavy rain from the 2 rivers that flow into it, but on a calm evening with a high tide, surrounded by The National Park, Coilte forestry and the Dawros peninsula, I think it’s absolutely magical. If you are looking for crystal clear water, nice sandy bottom where you can swim in shallow water, parallel to the shore, White Strand or Glassilaun are perfect and are just a 10 or 20 minute spin away.
Tide – As above check the tide before you enter the water and plan your route to see if it will help or hinder, particularly on the way back. Also the bay more or less empties at low tide, so is not suitable then.