I recently heard of the Killarney Peat Baths and immediately set out to find them. Located about a 20-minute drive from Killarney, owner Liam Counihan has created a landmark Irish novelty among the boggy hills of Kilcummin in the form of these outdoor, rejuvenating peat baths. With Covid-19 currently of great concern, I have found it difficult to feel 100% comfortable with indoor facilities so the outdoor peat baths were a revelation and pleasant surprise. As it turns out, with strict guidelines in place, only solo travelers, couples and families can visit at one time so we could have the place to ourselves for 3 whole hours!
The History Of Mud Bathing
Popular around the world, particularly across Continental Europe, therapeutic mud baths are lauded as having fortifying and detoxifying properties. Harking back to ancient times, reputedly 6,000 + years ago, mud baths have to be the oldest beauty regimen in existence! They are said to relieve arthritic pain, boost circulation and improve skin conditions i.e. Rosacea, Eczema & Psoriasis. The official name for any mud, peat or clay based healing treatment is Fangotherapy (sounds fancy doesn’t it?)
We’re On The Way…
We had spent the morning climbing Carrauntoohill and were seriously and were muscle sore after the climb. From Killarney, we drove through the beautiful countryside and reached the ‘bohereen’ (little country lane) leading up to the peat baths. Not really knowing what to expect, we drove on cautiously.
A Warm Welcome
Getting out of the car, we were given a warm greeting by Liam and lead up short incline. A traditional white cottage came into view with red half doors and a tin roof. The landscape is dotted with traditional farming implements adding to the charm of the place. The cottage, as it turns out, has been wonderfully converted into changing areas, shower rooms and a place to sit inside with tea & coffee making facilities on standby. Liam showed us around and left us alone to enjoy the place.
What To Expect
Right next door are the baths. After changing into our swimwear we made our way the few metres toward the bathing area. There are three elements to the experience that follow the Dr. Kneipp healing method of hot/cold therapy.
Firstly, you’ll see a large bath which is filled with cold water. This is great as a plunge pool to get the blood flowing.
The most relaxing part is definitely the barrels, that are heated to such a lovely temperature and you really won’t want to leave their warmth.
Lastly, you’ll spy a few mini half barrels in a row. These contain cold peat water to reinvigorate the senses after your barrel bath. It’s great craic to be able to pull the cord and soak your partner with cold water!
All three contain the fortifying peat water, which is piped directly from the source. The deeper the peat dug, the more nutrient rich it is and Liam has made sure to use the best quality peat possible for the paths.
The Full Experience
We braved the plunge pool first and stayed as immersed ourselves, head and all, into the frigid water. It definitely got my blood pumping!
We gladly climbed into the inviting peat darkened barrels. They have a seat built in and are heated to a lovely temperature and felt amazing after the cold waters of the pool. It was really lovely to sit outside amongst nature while cozy and warm up to our necks. We weren’t totally alone, as it turns out… there were a couple of peeping toms (two beautiful Friesian horses) peering over the fence hoping for a snack (or a go at the baths, who knows). The hee-haw of donkeys nearby also echo through the valley and there were grates with smoke fires burning, which dramatically added to the atmosphere and added another layer to the overall experience.
After unwinding in the barrels (I never thought I’d say those words…) we climbed out and gave the mini barrels a go. There are small logs to sit on while the other person pulls the plug (literally) and douses you in water. I haven’t laughed so much in ages! We ran to the hot showers and changed before having a cup of tea.
A Bit Of Forward Planning
I would recommend bringing some lunch as you’ll really want to snack afterwards. We were particularly hungry after our hike earlier so were well prepared.
Wowed By It All
It was wonderful having the place to ourselves for so long and it really felt as though we were alone in the wilderness while, at the same time having some home comforts. Liam even gave us some of the products from his company ‘Danú Ishka‘, that he supplies to spas and health clubs around Ireland (a face mask and peat for our bath at home).
It was an amazing experience and I can’t recommend it enough.