The storm beach of Minard is considered one of the finest of its type in Ireland: great boulders rounded by the sea and then thrown onto the shore during storms tumble down to the waters’ edge. The sand is revealed only at low tide. Prominent on the hill overlooking the bay are the remains of the sixteenth-century Minard Castle, one of three Fitzgerald castles on the peninsula.
The Dingle Peninsula on Ireland’s south-west stretches 50km out into the Atlantic Ocean with the Blasket Islands on its western tip and dominated by a spine of mountains running from Slieve Mish to Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest peak.
The coastline consists of steep cliffs and many sandy beaches safe for swimming and surfing, and Minard has a special appeal. The great sandstone boulders piled on the beach have been worn smooth over the aeons and serve as a natural barrier that prevents flooding and erosion of the fields inshore. The cliffs of Minard around the bay are made of fossilised desert sand dunes, 380 million years old.
At low tide the beach is superb for swimming, with calm water and no strong currents. There are organised swimming lessons for local children during the summer months. A little bridge at the foot of the castle grounds is a popular children’s paddling spot.
At high tide the sand will be all but submerged and it is the great stones which take centre stage.
The castle above the bay was once the stronghold of the Knights of Kerry. Cromwellian forces attempted to blow it up in 1650, placing charges at each corner. It withstood the blasts and three storeys of the rectangular tower still survive. However, the damage was such that it was no longer habitable and the crumbling walls and huge breach facing the sea stand testament to the ravages of weather and time.
In more recent history, Minard is where the young Tom Crean from Anascaul enlisted with the British Navy. He was a member of three major Antarctic expeditions, under Scott and Shackleton, and earned three Polar Medals. When Crean retired from the navy, he returned to Anascaul and with his wife opened a pub called The South Pole Inn.