Recent visitors to Clonakility may have noticed some unusual patterns drawn in the sand on Inchydoney beach.
The beautiful designs are the work of local group, West Cork Sand Circles. They have made dozens of the intricate works since being set up by Matthew Harte in March of last year.
Speaking to breakingnews.ie, Matthew said that he started to make the sand circles after his friend came back from California.
“He had seen these being made in Santa Monica and learned how to do it. He showed me and my girlfriend how to do it and we decided to give it a go on Inchydoney. We made our first circle in December of 2012”.
Ronan went back to America but, by that time, local interest had started growing and, in March 2013, he set up a Facebook page to plan the circles and organise the volunteers.
While their Facebook group now has almost 800 members, Matthew says that typically between 8 and thirty people tend help out on a regular basis.
“The number of people out on a given day varies, depending on the weather and high tide. Usually, we get between eight and 30 people out on the sand.”
The designs may seem complicated but Matthew, who designs the circles himself, says they are deceptively simple to make.
“Anything you can draw out with a compass and ruler, you can make on a larger scale in the sand with a piece of string, two sticks and a rake," he said.
“I usually have some of the regulars draw the outline of the pattern on the sand. That takes from half an hour to an hour. Then the shading can be done by the other volunteers and that can take up to two hours. We’ve had it take up to four hours in total but we try to (do it in less)."
Their latest sand circle was made to promote the Green Ribbon Campaign which aims to get people talking openly about mental health problems throughout the month of May. The detailed pattern, which incorporates the Mental Health Awareness Ribbon, took only two hours to complete.
One of the apparent drawbacks of creating art on the sand is that when the tide comes in, all the hard work is washed away. However, Matthew says that's actually his favourite part of the process.
“The tide coming in is my favourite part as it shows the temporary nature of things. It also leaves you with a blank canvas so we can start all over again".