Connemara Seaweed Baths

My top priority for my trip to Ireland was to go soak in a seaweed bath. I grew up in Connecticut, only an hour or so from ocean water. For as long as I can remember I’ve longed to cuddle up in the bubbled seaweed, but it’s also been so cold and sandy. When I found out there was a place where they would rinse off the seaweed for me and allow me to soak naked in a warm tub like a cozy mermaid, I had to go. I love all kinds of baths, but this was the bath I’d always dreamed of.

Before I had the opportunity to get to the baths, I gazed at the seaweed on the shore longingly. Part of me wanted to just jump in.

I checked in to a surprisingly inexpensive room at the Leenane Hotel and opened the drapes to reveal this view of the fjord. I drank the spring water that came from the tap. Delicious.

I had arrived too late to have a bath that evening, so I took a walk along the strand to the village. The spirits shouted hellos from their hang out.

The drunken locals shouted hellos from the pub. “What? She’s just going to walk by and not join us for a pint?” from a white-haired biddy in a wheelchair. Not right now. I’ll keep walking and admire the green of Ireland, even under the water.

I returned to the hotel for crab legs and the best brown bread I ate in all of Ireland. When I awoke in the morning I went down for a breakfast buffet that included the biggest, brightest pile of cold-smoked salmon I’ve ever seen. The food coming out of this fjord is just divine, fit for a mermaid!

A steam bath to open the pores, and then a long soak in a warm tub full of seaweed and spring water. I used a tangled mass of buoyant seaweed as a bath pillow. I popped its bubbles with glee. I scrubbed myself with a handful of glistening green baubles. I reached the point where I felt full of seaweed power and opened the drain. Above the tub was a hanging shower head and a chain to pull to get a half minute shower of ice cold spring water. I always finish my bath this way and I love how it marks the end. It brings me back to the world. I once watched a video about a Buddhist temple with a path along a mountain side that sprinkles cold water on the devotee walking it. The monk in the video walked the path twice, clearly enjoying the extreme sensation. Whenever I bathe I think of that monk and turn the water as cold as I can bear and say to myself “it’s only sensation, it’s only sensation.” Here I am, in this body. I left Leenane refreshed and calm, my skin soft and a little slimy, and feeling I’d been fed deep inside, that I had become a real mermaid at last.


  1. Anne, this is beautiful.

  2. You're a good writer, almost felt like I was there, popping seaweed bubbles!

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