Irish swimwear: Make a splash this summer with these must-have togs

Deirdre McQuillan: From cosy robes to practical beachwear, these home-grown brands cater to everyone

With more than 3,000km in coastline, it’s not surprising that the huge growth in sea swimming, surfing and other water sports has generated a rising number of Irish beach and swimwear brands, hailing from both the western shores exposed to the Atlantic and the north, to the more sheltered areas of the east. Cold water demands comfort, even for those hardy souls who brave all weathers all year round, and changing robes are now part of any serious sea swimmer’s kit for easy dressing, along with sleeved suits that are now so widespread and stylish for sun and sea protection.

Founders have included everyone from big-wave surfers like Charles Russell on the north coast to year-round swimmer Afric Marren on the east. Both Blackrock Beachwear in Galway and Kahm in northwest Donegal were started by women during Covid. Many sell wet and dry swim robes, everything from plain solid colours to leopard and zebra prints, such as Cosimac in Co Down. Based in Bray, Orca Board’s proud claim is that their Blubber robe is “the warmest anywhere in the world”.

Here’s a list of the Irish brands you need to know to make a splash this summer.

Blackrock Beachwear

When Louise Griffin who grew up beside the sea but couldn’t swim finally took the plunge on a girl’s trip in Salthill, “it was like electric shock therapy for the soul”, she says. Having learned how to float and do the breaststroke, it was after a sunset dip at the Blackrock diving towers that she started to wonder why no one had brought out a swimwear collection inspired by what she calls a magical place. And so Blackrock Beachwear, with its fun, sustainable and colourful range of swimwear and hoodies, was born. Prices from €70.



For sisters Sally Anne Sherry, a solicitor, and Áine Boyle, a teacher and professional swimming coach, swimming had always been a big part of their lives growing up in northwest Donegal. During lockdown they realised the need for a sustainable Irish swimwear brand and developed a range using Econyl regenerated nylon made from old fishing nets, carpets and nylon scraps. The brand sells swimwear for men, women and children. Prices from €70 for adults.

Coucon Robe

Founded by Irish triathlete and surfer Charles Russell from the north coast in 2012, Russell saw the need to design something that provided warmth and protection when getting in and out of wet suits in harsh conditions in exposed places and to offer privacy. The range offers short and long-sleeve robes, and also features in Apple TV’s Bad Sisters starring Sharon Horgan. Prices from €149.76.


This brand was launched in August 2020 by Richard Sweeney and Angela Skarmoutsos in Bangor, and its changing robes come in zany colours, zebra prints and stripes. They are warm, practical and sustainable to suit all outdoor adventures. “It began on a beach by the Irish Sea on a cold, wintry December morning in 2019 when the desire to be wrapped in the cosiest duvet sparked the idea,” they say. Prices from €155.

Cois Farraige

Designed by sea swimmers for sea swimmers, the brand offers eco-friendly fleece-lined towelling robes and beanies made from recycled materials, as well as swim shoes and wetsuit jackets. A total of €1 of every purchase goes to the Irish Wildlife Trust. Prices for changing robes from €129.95; wetsuit jackets €59.99.

Vico Robes

Founded by year-round sea swimmer Afric Marren and called after the famous Dublin coastal Vico Road, the brand offers quick-drying ultralight hooded poncho towel robes in luxury cotton and microfibre in colours pink, red and blue from €130. Vico Robes also offers reflective high-vis vests for walkers, cyclists and commuters. “Into the sea I go to ease my mind and soothe my soul,” says Marren, quoting the famous Scottish naturalist John Muir. A total of 5 per cent of all online profits are donated to Pieta House, and sunrise swims for Darkness into Light raised more than €1,500 recently.


Though not a swimwear brand, Stable makes very stylish linen swim robes and linen towels starting at €130.

Belooga by Orca Board

This is an Irish owned and operated water sports company. Winner of the silver medal at the National Startup Awards for best product, they are best known for their super-comfortable padded Blubber puffer jackets (prices from €99). The jackets are designed in Dublin and it is claimed they “are the warmest robe anywhere in the world”. The water-resistant outer shell is stuffed with faux down and engineered to keep in the heat with grey synthetic lambswool lining. Their long-sleeved swimwear is made from recycled plastic bottles and is designed for every body shape and every size. A portion of profits go to help in whale and dolphin conservation.

Mona Swims

This luxury resort-wear brand is handmade in Ireland and designed in-house by founder Carla Johnson, an award-winning textile artist. Very stylish, the range includes silk cover-ups, silk kimonos and kaftans, and cut-out swimsuits (some in crushed velvet). This is the only Irish brand making bikinis, some with high-waisted briefs. Prices start at €140.

Wild Atlantic Surf Co

Founded in 2019 by husband and wife Andrew and Jillian Marsden, their wet and dry changing robes are worn by big-wave surfers. Their ambassadors include Ollie O’Flaherty, Grace Doyle, Kilian Maher, Joshua Karbus and other well-known names in Irish surfing. Their best-selling wet and dry changing robes for adults are £110 (€128), with those for kids now £70 (€82). Free postage for Ireland and UK customers on orders over £50.

Helen Steele

Fashion designer and keen kayaker with an enduring love of the sea, Steele’s collection of swim and beachwear for Dunnes Stores is fun, practical and affordable at €25 and €30. The swimsuits from her latest Acid Rain collection have UV 50 protection. This long-sleeved zip swimsuit is modelled by Marwa from Not Another Intl.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author