Cummeen Strand is the wide sandy tidal plain that appears on your right as you travel from Sligo Town to the seaside resort of Strandhill by the Strandhill Road that passes by the north side of Knocknarea. Residents who frequent this route from town to the village are blessed to be presented each trip with such a stunning vista: the roadside giving way in an instant to a wide breadth of land and sea and harbour, Coney Island the idyllic object of the scene and the painter’s inspiration of Rosses Point glinting with its seaside charm in the morning sun, or hazy sunset, or at night the orange lights shining over Cummeen Strand giving the appearance of a huge ship parked in Sligo bay. The wetlands here are of international importance due to the significant numbers of Brent Geese wintering in Strandhill; some of these birds come from as far as the Canadian Arctic Circle. Cummeen was once the seat of the noble Ormsby family. Strandhill was another seat of the Ormsbys and Grange was the seat of the Nicholsons. Cummeen Strand was immortalised by the poet W.B Yeats in his poem Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland with the lines:
‘The old brown thorn-trees break in two high above Cummeen Strand
Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand.’
The Cummeen tidal strand is divided in two by fourteen stout cut stone pillars. This part of Cummeen is called Dorrin’s Strand after William Dorrin, the owner of Coney Island in the 1820s. He was drowned by the fast rush of the incoming tide while returning to the Island along the strand in March 1823. Provided the tide is low, the fourteen pillars guide travellers by the safest route the one and a half kilometres to the island. It is always of the utmost importance a visitor to Coney checks tide times before departure.
The great Irish painter Jack B Yeats wrote his fond reflections about Coney Island in his book ‘Sligo’
“New York is in my mind away out there a leap or two over high waves to the west.. The sun that is shining wild and tattered here is glistening on the boys and girls of Coney Island, that is their Coney Island, not our own and earlier Coney Island.”
source: Seamus McGoldrick