The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is Ireland's official national statistical office whose main purpose is to impartially collect, analyse and make available statistics about Ireland’s people, society and economy (more information at www.cso.ie). As well as regularly producing statistics regarding the health of the economy and related areas, the CSO is also mandated to produce reports on specific issues which can promote public discussion and have the potential to inform policy in the area.
One such report released at the end of November 2019 titled “Measuring Distance to Everyday Services in Ireland” analysed how close or far away people in Ireland live from everyday facilities (such as schools, hospitals, public transport and post offices) and provides insights on the differences in service accessibility at regional and local level. The report used geographical coordinates for each residential dwelling in Census 2016 and a routing algorithm to calculate the shortest distance by road from each of these dwellings to a set of everyday services (see here for more details of the publication and methodology).
Of interest to us and our readers is the fact that within this publication the CSO examines the distance to a swimming pool and outdoor sports facilities. A list of swimming pools and their coordinates were supplied to the CSO by Active Swimming Ireland while outdoor sports facilities were identified from a national mapping database developed by Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI). All objects with the following function types were identified from the database as an outdoor sports facility: Polo ground, Athletic track, Bowling green, GAA pitch, Hockey pitch, Rugby pitch, Soccer pitch, Cricket pitch, Tennis court, Race track, Sports ground, Multiple use sports ground, Golf course, Golf links, Pitch and Putt course.
Overall, the average distance of a residential dwelling to a swimming pool is 6.3km while to an outdoor sports facility is 1.7km. Not surprisingly, average distances differ significantly by urban/rural location. For swimming pools, urban households have to travel 2.7km while rural households have to travel 12.1km. For outdoor sports facilities the figures are 0.8km and 3.1km respectively.
At county/local authority level, households located in Dublin City, Cork City, Galway City, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin and Fingal (the last three of which are all part of the broader Dublin Metropolitan area) are the most proximate to swimming pools and outdoor sports facilities while Galway County, Kerry, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Longford and Mayo are the most distant from swimming pools and Galway County, Mayo, Leitrim, Kerry and Roscommon are the most distant from outdoor sports facilities. The maps below give a visual overview of the relative proximity of each county/local authority with lighter shades reflecting closer proximity and heavier shades reflecting further proximity.