But that only skimmed the surface. This week, we bring you another ten brilliant beaches. We still couldn’t find a place for anything outside Cork though…
Less than ten minutes drive from Rosscarbery, this is easily one of Ireland’s top beaches with to-die-for white sand looking directly out into the wild Atlantic. There are nice low grassy dunes for the smallies to explore, lifeguards, a blue flag, a public jacks and a nearby shop that sells ice creams. Just be wide of the tide —you’d be in Manhattan before you’d know it.
Well-protected from the south-westerlies by small cliffs, this beautiful beach is often an oasis of calm on a day when everyone in nearby Garrestown is chasing bits of their picnic around the beach. Enchanting Jamesfort is a short walk above the beach too if you fancy a bit of 17th century history.
Tucked away in a corner of east Cork, you might need Mrs Google to find your way here if you don’t know your Guileens from your Goleens. A simple, sandy gem with clear water, great swimming and of course the predictable coffee hipster in a converted horse box.
The wonderful walk out to Power Head with an ice cream seals the deal — if you ever get a chance to take a kayak out along the head on a calm day, grab it.
Don’t let the fact this sandy surprise is actually inside Cork Harbour put you off this fantastic slice of beauty that’s just over half an hour from the city. As well as a class view of Roches Point, it’s full of wonder for the little ones, with mini-caves, rock pools with crabs and other sea creatures that can be tormented, and the regular sight of giant cargo ships quietly gliding by. The walk back up to the car park is definitely in the ‘Everest Base Camp’ category, but the lure of an ice-cream in Whitegate will help pump the hamstrings.
One of the things you’ve got to love about this old favourite is that it’s full of the type of Corkonians that are smugly content with the fact they live just half an hour from where they holiday. No need for torturously boring car journeys, seasickness on a ferry or the stress of airports. You don’t even have to leave Cork! And who could blame them? It’s a blue flag beach, the view out to Ballycotton island is magnificent, and the food in the hotel is top class.
This gorgeous beach, a short jaunt from Clonakilty, is tucked away into the eastern side of Galley Head, which acts like a giant windbreaker on breezy days. Its golden sand is perfect for picnics, but despite the stunning location, Red Strand still manages to have an off-the-beaten track feel, unlike its celebrity cousin, Inchydoney, 15 minutes up the road, where the traffic jams are all a bit Jack Lynch-tunnel on the Friday of a sunny bank holiday.
If you’re really after a hidden paradise that also ticks the Wild Atlantic box, the short ferry ride to Sherkin Island aboard the Yoker Swan is a real treat in itself. The walk across deserted island roads and narrow paths is magical, only topped when Silver Stand suddenly reveals itself in all its sandy glory with the splendour of Cape Clear glistening in the distance.
West Cork has two enclaves for yachty types: Schull and Glandore. It’s no coincidence that neither have beaches — such public amenities might draw riff-raff who don’t even own an SUV, not to mind a 40-footer.
Schull does have a secret beach though, less than 15 minutes drive west of the village on the Goleen Road. Ballyrisode is a little hard to find, but the reward is an almost sickeningly stunning beach set in an epic landscape of grey rocks and wild, craggy, green hills. The sand is perfect, the water crystal clear, and the cosy east-facing location makes it an oasis of calm.
One of the closest beaches to Cork city, this is hugely popular on warm weekends. Despite some bad publicity in recent years, local volunteers religiously keep this beauty spot immaculate. Myrtl’a is a beautiful beach with golden sand that slopes down to the sea bubbling below.
Farther south along Cork’s coast is another secret nugget of beach gold. Parking is very tight and the addition of a sprawling concrete access ramp a few years back is an eyesore, but everything else about little Rocky Bay is truly amazing.
Go for a dip and look back at the towering cliffs that rise up behind the flat powdery sand and work their way north along the coast. Don’t be surprised if you spontaneously burst into a verse of D’Banks.