Clontarf Swimming Club was founded in Clontarf Parish Hall in 1884 and was the first Swimming Club founded on the Northside of Dublin city.
Clontarf Swimming Club was founded in Clontarf Parish Hall in 1884. At this stage in Dublin swimming was in its infancy with only two other clubs in existence both on the Southside of the City. Dublin Swimming Club is the oldest club in Ireland and was founded in 1881, closely followed by Sandycove Swimming Club in 1882 and then Clontarf Swimming Club being the first founded on the Northside of the city. The club was based in Clontarf Baths on the seafront. The Baths and the assembly rooms were originally constructed in 1864. Records show that Clontarf Swimming Club were well organised and then had a full programme of races from its early days, many of these races were held at 7am in the morning. This explains the club crest which shows a sunburst in the life buoy. Ten years after Clontarf Swimming Club the Irish Amateur Swimming Association now Swim Ireland was founded.
The club won its first honours in Junior Waterpolo wining the 1908, 1909 and 1910 season, Clontarf started in Senior Waterpolo in 1910, apart from our success at Waterpolo, the club had great success in Swimming with members winning Irish Championships as early as 1913, in that year J.S Brady won the Irish 200′, T.H Corrigan won the Irish 440′ with also A.J Cullen, S Barret, J.S Brady, M.F Brennan, T.H Corrigan all received International and inter provincial Honours in both Swimming and Waterpolo. Two Clontarf Players J.S Brady and S (Charles) Barrett were on the first Irish Olympic Waterpolo Team that Competed in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Ireland lost to Czechoslovakia 4-2 in the Quarter Final, Ireland also went on to compete in the 1928 Olympic Games.
The Club continued to exist and complete during the First World War and also through our own troubles of 1916, the war of Independence and the Civil War of 1922 to 1923. The Club went onto win its first Leinster Senior League in 1928 captained by Ned Lightfoot, but had to wait until 1936 to win the Clubs first Leinster Senior Cup with Kevin O’Grady as Captain. The Club won 6 Irish Senior Cups the first in 1938 (see Role of Honours – Waterpolo). In 2015 Ireland Waterpolo organised the first u12 National Cup which Clontarf won, this was a fantastic achievement for our younger players.
The Club over the years has organised many tours to the UK and Europe over the years. The first tour was in 1912 to the Isle of Man, were it returned to again in 1913. This was followed by tours in 1926, 1927 and 1928 to Devon and Dorset and in 1935 to Hamburg. The first tour of World War Two was to France in 1947, opposite shows the itinerary for this tour from the Club Handbook of 1947. In 1948 the Club went to Denmark and Sweden winning all nine matches. The Club returned to France in the 1960s and during the 1980s and 90s the Club went to Manchester, Chester, Liverpool and London. Most recently in 2014 the Club with over 40 players at all age groups and levels went to Budapest to take part in a four day training Camp on Margaret Island (Margitsziget). The Club received a write up in the local newspaper Dublin People. In 2015 the Club visited Manachester with a Junior squad to participate in the Machester festival of Waterpolo, this was another gret trip for the Club with our U12 team finishing 3rd.
Apart from Waterpolo Clontarf Swimming Club has a long history associated with Swimming both in the Pool and in the Open Sea. One of our best ever swimmers is Michael Kelly Snr who was the 200m Irish breast stroke champion in 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959. He has also the distinction of being the first Irish man to compete in the European Championships and was the only Irish Swimmer in Budapest 1958. In Open Sea Clontarf Swimmers have participated in these all around the coast of Dublin since they began. Our swimmers have won the Liffey Swim fifteen times, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Swim ten times and our own race the Island Swim ten times which started in 1943; this race starts from Islands Eye along the Howth Harbour wall finishing at Balscadden Beach. Our most successful Open Swimmer is Current Senior Member & Coach Brian Nolan with fourteen Open Sea Swim wins, he also won Open Sea Swimmer of the year in 2001 and 2004. This is followed by Richie Case winning twelve open sea races between 1934 and 1946. 2017 has been another great year for Sea Swimming in which the Club has won 5 of the Open Sea Races, with Triona Muldooon winning two of the Women’s races, the men won three swim with Brian Nolan, Dario Fernandez and Sean Nolan.
The Club originally was based in Clontarf Baths with a full programme of Waterpolo and Swimming Races each year. On Christmas day every year a Race across the baths was also held for those brave enough to swim in the Cold. Sadly in 1996 the Baths closed following also the closure of Blackrock Baths, this saw the demise of the much participated in Summer Leagues held in each of the Baths. Now the Club Trains in Guinness Swimming Pool and the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown (See list of Training Times). There are plans to rebuild the Baths Planning permission has been granted to a consortium to redevelop the site.