Beach Reviews: Long Strand
This long, empty and uninterrupted stunning stretch of sand is buffered from the winding road to Clonakilty by a belt of gently undulating grassy dunes.
Also known as 'Castlefreake' the beach itself lies on the westerly side of Galley Head offering a sooped-up version of Red Strand to the east of the peninsula and a quieter alternative to next-door neighbour Owenahincha. The waves glide ashore at Red but they crash, bang and wallop on Long so swimming is not recommended and the council have erected numerous angry looking signs to discourage submersion of any kind.
Grassy dunes: handy for skinning up
Usually such warnings attract a particular set of people in their droves: the adrenaline junkies. There's a mura-dhea walk way down to the beach with space to park at the very eastern end (Dunore) and it's there you'll spot the black dots of neoprene and their surfboards in the water patiently queuing to harness the Atlantic's ferocious energy as it arrives on the south-west facing shores of the People's Republic.
Balming out on Long Strand isn't what Jah had in mind when He designed this one. The wind is far too busy whipping up a haze of sand that would grate sunbathers' nerves but walkers will relish its beautiful vastness especially when a stroll is accompanied by the hypnotic repetition of waves loudly pounding the shore before withdrawing in slurping silence to mount their next assault. Note that if you have a dog of medium-low intelligence this dramatic tidal chaos may drive them around the bend - barking at the sea and other such inexplicable pointlessness.
You can puck a ball around here with no fear of clobbering a child or an angry scobe with a criminal record that includes GBH but the narrow strand does lean heavily towards the water. That might pose an enticing challenge to the more accomplished hurler but if your sliothar goes in the water you won't get away with just getting wet up to your ankles to retrieve it. Like Kilkenny's notorious fouler-in-chief Tommy Walsh, the sea will climb all over you if you go near it.
Sand: 7/10 (not wet enough for sandcastle material)
Swimming: Don't. (Surfing: 7/10)
Puck around space: 2/10
Scobe factor: none
99 Cones: Supervalu in Clon.
Top tip: there are some cosy secluded spots on the dunes facing the sea that are very well sheltered from the wind but that still allow you an almost complete view of the beach. Fierce romantic like. And warm.