Cllr Bill Collentine at the diving boards at Lough Owel.

Owel swimmers to get changing facilities

The Municipal District of Mullingar Kinnegad has revealed it is to begin the process of installing changing facilities for swimmers at Lough Owel.

The revelation came in response to a call made at the February meeting of the district by Cllr Bill Collentine, who asked that changing facilities and toilets be provided at the lake.

The written response to his request stated that in the second quarter of this year, the district will commence a design for a changing facility. It added that toilets are currently provided there.

Cllr Collentine said the lake is a much-used facility, attracting both locals and visitors – some to swim, some to walk and some just to enjoy the views. Occasionally tour buses pull up there, he added.

"It’s certainly a big asset for us: it’s a real gem out there," he told officials. "We need to capitalise on this, and to do that, we’d need proper toilets, changing areas and showers."

In a statement sent to the Westmeath Examiner after the meeting, Cllr Collentine said that he was “delighted” with the news that local dippers' wait for changing facilities at the popular bathing area may be coming to an end.

“With the huge increase in cold water swimming, the diving boards at Lough Owel has gained regional attention as a 'go to' place for many people. With this in mind we need to look at upgrading some of the essential facilities there.

“I suggested that immediate upgrades, including improved lighting, handrails and possible changing areas, be made as this amenity is used by many people in the early hours of the morning and at evening time when it is dark.

“These small upgrades are vital in the immediate term and can be a precursor to a more long term plan to upgrade the facilities with proper toilets, changing areas, showers, CCTV etc.

“We must capitalise on this wonderful amenity at our door step as it is already a major attraction to the people of Mullingar but also to the thousands of commuters who pass by it weekly as it sits on a main western arterial roadway.

“In time the rich history of this area including The Children of Lir and Captain's Hill could be showcased at this location. It is also surrounded by beautiful boardwalks and trails, these could possibly be linked up and linked into the 'supply' walkway that joins up to the canal in town to form a pedestrianised and safe route into Mullingar itself.”