Growing up by the sea in Co.Kerry on the West Coast of Ireland, I was always aware of the benefits of seaweed, unfortunately it has taken me 32 years and moving back to Ireland,this time the East Coast of Ireland, to fully appreciate it. I can still hear my mum telling us to rub the seaweed over our bodies as we waded into the sea every summer…..ya right! All we (my brother,sister & I) did was try and find a spot in the sea to swim in that was free of the “disgusting weed”.
I used to love when the “Peri-Winkle Man” was around the beach,selling bags of peri-winkles with a needle attached, to pluck the horrid things from their shell.He also sold dry seaweed,which I loved, but have not had for years. I recently purchased this bread mix which is made locally,among other products using seaweed as a substitute for salt.Genius!
Last week was I was kindly invited along to Solas na Mara | Helibhic Seaweed Baths,in the beautiful Gaeltact (Irish speaking area) of An Rinn,Co.Waterford. A short drive from Dungarvan,Co.Waterford and Yoghal,Co.Cork. Sólás Na Mara, Heilbhic a seaweed bathhouse, have a new purpose-built, modern facility designed to ensure a relaxing and invigorating experience. The bathhouse was opened 1 year ago. Operated by two established practitioners Caroline Gordon & Cian Ó Conchúir, the clinic offers a range of treatments including Physical Therapy, Acupuncture and Massage and much more, see here. The clinic also boasts a rehab gym to facilitate and aid a speedy recovery.It is well known that seaweed baths have beneficial effects for a vast range of maladies including rheumatism, arthritis and many skin conditions. This is something they have brought to the East Coast. It is an entirely natural product, making it a desirable treatment for the health conscious.
So what is a Seaweed Bath? As the name suggests it is a bath full of hot sea water with seaweed.Imagine that you are immersed in an enormous bath, luxuriating in expensive bath oils,tinted with an amber colour from the seaweed.The silky oils are those extracted from seaweed by a simple process, nothing is added, nothing is taken away – simply natures best.Seaweed Baths have long been a tradition in Ireland.
The seaweed is collected locally in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. It is then thoroughly cleaned by hand and steam treated to ensure the highest standard of hygiene.
Entering the bathhouse through the beautiful cafe,overlooking the ocean,with its boats & fishing trawlers docked at the harbour, I felt I was walking into a Spa. Piped music automatically puts you in relax mode, plus I was on my own, no husband,no baby attached or buggy to push!
I was immediately felt welcome when greeted by Kelly, who answered my 101 questions and then brought to my private room, where she explained in detail how to carry out my treatment.Each room is supplied with gently piped music creating a wonderfully relaxing environment. There is also a twin room for couples. Towels and water are provided, so you need not bring anything with you. Wear loose clothing to ensure you remain comfortable following your bath.
I first started with a full body steam in this “steam box”, like your very own mini steam room, this process opens your pores preparing for the next stage. I found this really relaxing and spent 5 mins in my “steam box”. Excuse the terrible selfie!
Next up, I entered the warm seawater in a cast iron bath.Sea water is piped through straight from the Atlantic Ocean,and yes I tasted to check if both hot and cold water were salty (all for the sake of blogging)! I stayed steeped in the hot bath for 10 mins,this is meant to release the toxins from your skin,having had already opened your pores in the “steam box”. I sat back and relaxed,no crying baby,no knocks on the door,just me and the music (and a sneak peek at my phone). I’m not great at relaxing!
On to the seaweed next! I tipped in the bucket of green seaweed and the oils almost immediately began to seep out. Kelly, who showed me around,had instructed me to make sure to rub the seaweed all over my body to ensure I get the best benefits from it.Flashback circa 1986, my mum saying the same thing on Banna Strand! So I obeyed, and my moisture starved skin loved it. I sat in my oily bath for a further 30 mins,this time I shut my eyes and really relaxed,topping up the bath with warm water when needed.
I was left with super soft skin,and completely relaxed, to the point I needed a coffee after, before I drove home as I was feeling sleepy. I sat with my coffee overlooking the harbour of An Rinn. I would highly recommend a visit,whether you are passing or on on holiday, try out a spa like treatment with a difference.I will certainly be back to sample some of their facials and another bath. Many thanks to Kelly & Solas na Mara.
For more information on Solas Na Mara, see here.
*Disclaimer:I was offered a chance to sample a Seaweed Bath for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own.