Claremorris Swimming Pool and Swimming Club
In the early 1960s Paddy O’Brien, late of O’Brien’s garage, Claremorris, heard of a drowning accident in which a number of people drowned. He decided that there was a huge need for a facility to teach people to swim. He was coming out of Dublin after a meeting one day when he saw a sign saying “Mermaid Pools”. He called in and decided to buy a mermaid pool. It cost £500.00.
Another local man Tommy Higgins, formerly of Greens Stores, Claremorris agreed to bring the pool to Claremorris in his lorry.
The local boxing club (which was attached to the local GAA complex) gave the use of their premises on the Ballyhaunis Road for the pool to be installed.
A meitheal of local people got together and erected the pool and installed the heating and plumbing. This was all done on a voluntary basis.
There was a men’s dressing room and a ladies dressing room upstairs with a toilet for each. There was one shower at the side of the pool. One had to climb up steps to get into the pool. The pool was opened in 1969. The attached photo shows volunteers who helped set up the swimming pool.
Fr. John O’Boyle (who was attached to St Colman’s college, Claremorris ) and several volunteers set up a committee to form Claremorris swimming club. Many people learned to swim in the pool and many adults trained as swimming teachers and coaches. Many trained in Water safety and became instructors and lifeguards.
The club is still going strong 45 years later.
Bobby Molloy a Fianna Fáil TD attended a meeting in Claremorris and he agreed to support the committee in applying for a local authority pool.
In 1973 Jim Tully was Minister for Local Government and he agreed to grant funding of £280,000 provided the local community came up with £40,000.
After much fundraising the new 25m pool was opened in December 1978. It was the first of it’s kind in Co. Mayo. It had a sauna and steam room and later a gymnasium was added.
After thirty successful years of running this pool, which had only closed one day in that time which was for the visit of Pope John Paul 11 to Knock in 1979 it was time for a new pool.
This time €100,000 was required as a local contribution and the funding was obtained. In August 2009 the new 25m pool was opened in the same place as the previous pool. This leisure centre had all of what was in the old pool with an enhanced gym and exercise room.
The swimming club has over 70 members who participate in swimming, lifesaving and water polo.
The leisure centre runs all kinds of fitness programmes for all ages.