I SEEMED to spend most of my childhood in Eglinton Street baths in Cork city. Maybe because I always got in for free!
EGLINTON Street municipal baths opened in 1901. Photographer Kevin Cummins was a regular visitor in the ’50s and ’60s.
“There were two pools, strictly segregated, and God help anyone who ventured across to the girls’ pool for a ‘gawk’,” he recalled. “My gang used flock to the girls’ school galas — I wonder why? — and pass the evening selecting our very own ‘Miss Cork’ from the teeming mass of ‘young wans’ in bathing costumes strutting around the place.” In the 1970s, the Corporation opened pools in Gurranabraher, Mayfield and Douglas and hotels began adding them too. Eglinton Street baths fell out of favour and were closed in 2005, replaced by the City Hall car park.
When the Lee Baths opened in 1934, initially women were not allowed in. In protest, 70 people, mostly women, signed a letter claiming the Corporation was abusing its authority by prohibiting a large section of the population. Giving examples of women being allowed in other pools nationwide, they asked for the restrictions to be lifted, or for Eglinton Street baths to be made women-only during the summer months. Their requests were not met.