Swimming in Thomastown

The River Nore played a big part in our lives as children in the fifties. The long
summer days were spent “up the bank”.
There were three swimming areas which were recognised as “safe” at that time.
The favourite place for the younger people was known as “Conscience” Island to us
all. (This was probably Colleton’s Island as shown in a map of the River Nore by
Thomastown artist Tom Dack which lists all the place names along the river).
It was situated up river from the viaduct, probably about a mile and a half, and we
would walk there daily, sometimes twice a day during the summer holidays.
There was an island area which was protected from the current where parts were
shallow and there was a deeper part for the more accomplished swimmers. Some
days there would be thirty or more there, small children were accompanied by a
parent or older brothers and sisters. A changing area for the girls was located in a
small island across from the shallow end while the boys used the clumps of bushes
located around the field nearby.
Some children brought tubes from car tyres to keep them afloat, water wings and
arm bands had still to come on the scene. I have a vivid memory of an incident when
a tube slid down my body to my feet and of being unable to free myself, a frightening
experience which could have ended in tragedy.
Sometimes, our mothers would arrive with sandwiches, tea and special treats such
as fruit or Tayto crisps which were popular at the time.
When we had gained in confidence we progressed to the area known as “The Three
Trees” which was the main river where it wasn’t possible to get your depth and it was
important to be a good swimmer. This was a challenge for the older children and
teenagers. There was an entry point and we would swim down about a hundred
yards or so and exit, repeating the process many times until tired out, we lay in the
sun to get dry. This area was nearer to the town so we hadn’t as far to go for our
Even closer to the town was the Diving Board, where the more experienced
swimmers hung out and we often stopped on our way up the bank to watch them
diving and swimming underwater. During the summer months, life-saving classes
were conducted and these were very popular and a lot of people took part. There
was a wooden raft in the middle of the river at this point and we were able to swim
out to it, have a rest and swim back to the bank.
Just down from the bridge and opposite Grennan Mill was a favourite spot for
paddling and parents would bring their small children to introduce them to the water.
This was strictly a paddling area as the current was quite strong and it was not safe
for swimming. Unfortunately there were a number of tragic drownings during that
In the sixties and seventies the Gap and Weir area came into being as a swimming
In our time we were not encouraged to swim in that area as it was considered too
Thomastown Community River Trust, was a voluntary group that came together in 2008
when a neglected v-shaped weir was breached in a flood and this popular local
swimming area was lost. 
After much work on the part of the TCRT, works commenced in 2014 and the Weir Pool
was officially opened the following year. The open air swimming pool has been a great
facility for the Thomastown area and is much used. Life guards are employed on a
regular basis thus ensuring the safety of the children.