By Paddy Mulchrone
BARLEYCOVE’S beach bridge is back and ready for another season of summer sunshine – just in time for the mini heatwave expected this weekend.
The familiar floating green pontoon has been anchored back on the Mizen Head beach – one of Ireland’s best known beaches – in time for the Easter holidays.
Each year it carries thousands of holidaymakers who trek from the carpark and along the boardwalk to the golden sands.
Cork County Council decided to compulsorily purchase the common land used by local landowners around Barleycove’s dunes years ago. Now beach lovers travel to the sand along a designated path to the pontoon bridge across the tidal stream that flows alongside.
For years, cars, caravans and tents had been allowed to roam freely on the dunes and grassland, adding to the erosion from the sea and wind. Now it has been designated an area of special scientific interest for walkers only, hosting rare wildlife and plants.
Each year, the pontoon bridge is divided into sections and stored ashore either side of the tidal stream. It has become an iconic sight for tourists who know that when they see the floating bridge, they can get to and from the seaside without getting their feet wet.
Barleycove resident Fiona Barrett, 63, has holidayed in the area for over 30 years and recently came to live there. She looks forward to the bridge’s return every year. ‘It’s a sure sign summer is coming. People spend the winter walking behind the dunes and near the lakes. Now they’re back on the beach again and I just hope we get the sunshine to welcome them.’
And we could be in luck with Met Eireann forecasting a warm weekend throughout the country – albeit warmest along the west coast, with some site’s predicting up to 21 degrees in Co Clare, although Cork should still get a good spell of sunshine.