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Introducing Sandycove

About 1km north of Dalkey is Sandycove, with a pretty little beach and a Martello tower – built by British forces to keep an eye out for a Napoleonic invasion – now housing the James Joyce Museum. This is where the action begins in James Joyce's epic novel Ulysses. The museum was opened in 1962 by Sylvia Beach, the Paris-based publisher who first dared to put Ulysses into print, and has photographs, letters, documents, various editions of Joyce's work and two death masks of Joyce on display.

Below the Martello tower is the Forty Foot Pool, an open-air, sea-water bathing pool that took its name from the army regiment, the Fortieth Foot, that was stationed at the tower until the regiment was disbanded in 1904. At the close of the first chapter of Ulysses, Buck Mulligan heads off to the Forty Foot Pool for a morning swim. A morning wake-up here is still a local tradition, winter or summer. In fact, a winter dip isn't much braver than a summer one since the water temperature varies by only about 5°C (9°F). Basically, it's always bloody cold.

Pressure from female bathers eventually opened this public stretch of water – originally nudist and for men only – to both sexes, despite strong opposition from the 'forty foot gentlemen'. They eventually compromised with the ruling that a 'Togs Must Be Worn' sign would apply after 9am. Prior to that time nudity prevails and swimmers are still predominantly male.