In grade school, Mrs Vaughn gave us a prompt in which we were to write about swimming in a pool filled with anything our imaginations could create.  I wrote about wanting to swim in jello.  Orange jello, to be exact. I don’t think I took breathing into consideration, as it seems like the more one tried to ‘swim’, the more one would sink. But whatever.

Yesterday, I decided to take a seaweed bath.  It’s a local custom in Ballybunion, and people claim it to be excellent for the skin, nails and hair.  They liken it to swimming in aloe, which was right. This is as close as I will ever come to swimming in jello, I would guess, and it was not exactly as I’d imagined. It’s fair to say it’s a slippery, slimy, almost mucous-y experience.  Perhaps like being born, only you don’t have to get your head wet, if you don’t want to.  I, however, did, as I figured I’d never do it again, so why not?

First, a bath was started for me while I waited.  When a few inches of hot water, and a bucket full of seaweed, covered the bottom of the tub, I was escorted into the private bathing space and told to take as long as I liked.  In the room was a tub, hooks for clothing, a bucket, a chair, a mirror, a towel and a clock.  Here it is.  There is also a sign that says “a little hush helps everyone to relax, thank you”.  I can’t imagine anyone hootin’ and hollerin’ in there, but maybe it’s a problem for some.

I have no idea what that other sign says.  Something about being careful getting in and out of the tub, I think.  I forgot about it until I saw the photo.


Relaxing was no problem, though I could hear the crowds at the beach outside clearly, and the comings and goings of the staff and other guests.  The 30 minutes I spent went by quickly.  I added hot water whenever things began to get cool.  The bathtub only got slimier as the time went on, though, and near the end I was wanting eagerly to get out and rinse off.  Don’t worry, ya’ll, I was careful.

Like magic, once I had removed the seaweed from the tub, and placed it into the provided bucket, and I’d begun to towel off, not a trace of the jello slime from the seaweed remained.  My skin felt like the petals of a rose and I was sort of groggily relaxed.  I got a latte to go and felt completely rejuvenated.

If you’re ever in this part of the world and ever had a hankering for swimming in jello – I recommend the seaweed baths in Ballybunion.