When Mr D Taylor decided to build his new Turkish
bath on the site of the old biscuit factory stores in Brunswick Street
he knew that he wanted it to be well built and for it to be an
attractive building. According to an article in the Old Limerick
Journal series 'Ends and means', twenty men were engaged for seven
months on building it. But
although the brickwork was said later 'to be the finest to be seen
anywhere', Taylor's relationship with the builders had not been a happy
one. At one stage, Taylor had even (unsuccessfully) sued one of the
masons, Peter McNamara, for refusing to finish the work in breach of
The baths were well described in a local newspaper,
which thought it important to mention that the building was surrounded
by iron railings.
Perhaps of more interest architecturally, there were four
large stained glass windows at the front of the building and terra cotta
decorations around the top.
the ticket office, with what was said to be 'unusual frosted glass
windows', was the door to the 15ft high cooling-room measuring 40ft by 28ft
and lit by Wyndham gas lamps.
sides of the cooling-room, with its wood
panelled ceiling and walls, were twenty-six upholstered dressing boxes with crimson
screens and a couch for relaxing on after the bath. At the far end was a
5ft deep tiled plunge bath,
15ft long by 9ft wide, with a curved surround of white
Killaloe marble. There was also access to the pool through
a crimson baize spring door from one of the hot rooms.
This first hot
room, but a foot lower than the cooling-room, was very large (23ft by 50ft)
and had a cone shaped ceiling. Ename
covered the lower half of the walls, while the floor was covered in a
pattern of tessellated tiles. Bathers were able to satisfy their thirst
from a constantly running
fountain of filtered drinking water.
A dimmed glass screen in
iron frame separated this room from a similar second hot room with a
tiled arch ceiling. Hot air passed into the room 'through apertures of
leading off the
first hot room was the shampooing room with two marble slabs, together
with hot and cold needle and spray showers.
main rooms were on the ground floor, with the laundry, drying rooms, and
caretaker's accommodation in the basement. The furnace was said to be
able to produce a hot
room temperature of 200ºF.
building work was supervised by a Mr White, of Dublin, the newspaper was
happy—no doubt with an eye to possible advertising revenue—that most
of the materials used were obtained locally, and that the plumbing was
by a local firm, D Thompson of Cecil Street.
Of one advertisement, at least, the newspaper could be sure—Mr Taylor's,
announcing the opening of his new baths in (the by now renamed)
erection of which the Proprietor has spared no expense' and which,
are specially notable for the spaciousness of their
apartments, perfect ventilation, (on which the whole value of the Bath
depends), and the care and exactness with which its operations will be
conducted…The Shampooers have been selected with great care, and no
effort will be wanting to render the attendance prompt and obliging,
under the personal supervision of manager and proprietor.
About his opening hours and charges Taylor was still feeling his way.
Setting the hours between 9.00 and 5.00 as his prime time
with an admission charge of 2/-, he reduced this to 1/- in
the early morning from 6.30, and in the evening from 5.00
till closing time at 8.30. Hot water baths were also
available (during the same periods) at 6d and 1/-,
while 'Shower, Needle, Wave, or Plunge' were each available
at any time for 6d.
But no mention of a charge for shampooing seems to indicate
that this was included in the price of the Turkish bath.
While the phrase 'Cold, Tepid, Reclining, and Shower Baths
for Ladies' clearly indicates that the Turkish baths were
not available to women bathers.
However, probably soon afterwards, both the prices and the policy towards
women bathers had changed. The second paragraph of a later advertisement states 'Open daily for Ladies and
Gentlemen'—though it does not indicate at what time, or on
which days, and there do not seem to be any new separate
baths for women. The admission charges appear to have been
reduced to 1/6 and 1/-, but as a shampoo now cost 6d extra,
this was only a reduction for those wanting just a Turkish
bath. And while baths for
women cost less than those for men at 1/- and 9d, there
is no way of knowing whether they had the same
facilities or time in the bath.
time, though, Taylor felt confident enough to announce that his baths
'had now been proved by the Public, and are admittedly the best and
largest in the Kingdom', the latter claim being made, with equal lack of
justification, by many other establishments before and after Taylor.
Taylor's death, some time in the 1890s, his wife Mary ran the Turkish
baths until around 1914 when they were bought by Michael O'Brien. 'Now
open under new management from 8.00 am to 8.30 pm' announced the new
proprietor, cutting out the early morning sessions.
use of Turkish baths was already decreasing by the end of the 1914-18
war and, by the summer of 1924, O'Brien was opening the baths 'on a
part time basis'. In fact, prior to that, the baths may even have closed for a while, either due to decreased usage or perhaps due to the
political situation—otherwise it is difficult to explain the wall
plaque advertising 'Luimneach
Turkish Baths Now Open'
which can be seen on a nearby wall in 1922.
On 19 July 1927, O'Brien, who was
also the proprietor of the Patrick Street Bonded Warehouse, wrote to the
Town Clerk applying for a rebate on his rates for the previous three
years when the
Turkish baths had only been open on a part time basis.