Sea glass is the frosted, etched remains of durable glass fragments that wash up on beaches across the world, broken and smoothed by the action of waves, wind and sand. The Emerald Isle is a popular hunting ground for high-quality pieces of colourful sea glass that were once thought of as useless trash. Several of Ireland's beaches still yield excellent finds of sea glass, despite their recent popularity among jewellery makers and rock collectors as beautiful, unique pieces.
Sea glass hunters love scouring the sheltered, deserted beaches of Brittas Bay, a popular day trip from Dublin. One of the finest shorelines on Ireland's east coast, Brittas Bay has over 3 miles of clean, sandy beaches and dunes. Throughout the bathing season, lifeguards watch over the bay, which is a designated Special Area of Conservation because of its ecological importance.
Along the rural southwest coast of Ireland is a sandy beach called Derrymore Strand. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Derrymore Strand is a prime location for finding large, attractive pieces of sea glass that look lovely standing alone or cut and worked into jewellery. The beach sits almost 7 miles west of Tralee on the Dingle Peninsula, with the Slieve Mish Mountains to the east.
Known as Ireland's Cultural Heart, as well as its Bilingual Capital, Galway has a strong reputation for vibrant lifestyles and beautiful beaches. Galway is the most central port on the West Coast of Ireland and offers sea glass hunters several safe beaches to scour for colourful pieces. Atlantic depressions occasionally stir up sea glass deposits along the north west coastline between late autumn and early spring, and you can often find newly revealed pieces on summer days following storms.
If you're looking for a more isolated sea glass hunting experience, take a short ferry ride from County Antrim across the Sea of Moyle to Rathlin Island, the northernmost point in the region. The small, "L"-shaped island is another one of Ireland's 43 Special Areas of Conservation and is the only inhabited offshore area in Northern Ireland. Exploring the western side of the island will take you near the renowned RSPB Seabird Centre, so keep an eye out for wild puffins, razorbills and kittiwakes during your summer sea glass hunting excursion.
On the northern coastline of the Dingle Peninsula sits Tralee, the largest town in County Kerry. The beaches here offer sea glass hunters an excellent opportunity to stumble across large pieces of colourful frosted glass. Head south on the ancient roadway over the Slieve Mish Mountains to get to the beaches of Tralee.