If you’ve walked the southern coastal beaches and spotted some impressive sandcastles it might be the work of local sandcastle architect, builder and laborer, Dylan Edward Mulligan. While his impressive works of art wash away quickly, his equally impressive work of raising money to preserve the Glennwanis Hotel is long lasting.

Tybee Island Lighthouse, built on Contentment Sandbar on the Julianton River near Shellman Bluff

Dylan isn’t just a one man sandcastle building machine, he is an attorney by trade. He caught the Sandcastle bug when he spent summers growing up on the beautiful Georgia coast, in particular, the small coastal village of Shellman Bluff in McIntosh County.  He spent many hours on the beaches of Blackbeard Island and the tidal sandbars of the Julianton and Sapelo Rivers, where he started building. He received his moniker from the locals of Ponce Inlet, FL where he vacations. They began to anticipate the yearly visit from the “Sandman,” to see his beautiful creations…the name stuck.

Traditional sandcastle built at Ponce Inlet, Florida

If you have been lucky enough to see one of Dylan’s creations, you will notice the stunning detail and scale of his projects. His first realistic castle was inspired by the Tattnall County Courthouse, where he took the Georgia Bar Examination. Dylan says, “It was my first real attempt at replicating an actual building, so I was unsure of how well it would actually turn out. I was pleasantly surprised, so I then decided to replicate a more meaningful structure, the historic Glennwanis Hotel in my hometown of Glennville. I quickly realized that building these replicas could be a great way to raise awareness for historic preservation, in particular a way to raise funds for my efforts to restore the Glennwanis as a new home for the Glennville-Tattnall Museum.” Since then, most of his constructions have been inspired by actual historic buildings. He does admit, at times he builds a traditional sandcastle just for fun.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, built with the assistance of William Harrell and Andrew Gorton on Pelican Island at the mouth of Tybee Creek

When I asked Dylan about putting so much time and effort into creating something so temporary he said, “once upon a time, I obsessed over trying to prevent my creations from being washed away by the tide, going so far as to build seawalls and dig trenches. However, all such efforts were and are in vain.” And with time he says “I have come to embrace the coming tide as just the conclusion of the process.  I still enjoy seeing how long I can make a creation last, but I now also enjoy watching the powerful tides wash them away.  Nothing on earth is permanent, especially when built on or of sand (Matthew 7:24-27).”

Highclere Castle, better known to the world as “Downton Abbey,” built at Gould’s Inlet, East Beach on St. Simons Island

If you want to try your hand at this trade, Dylan suggests having easy access to plenty of water, which is the most crucial ingredient, as the water is what holds the sandcastle together.  Having the right equipment is important as well. He recommends a large, full-size shovel, a couple of five-gallon buckets and a set of carving tools, a set of plastic putty knives from your local hardware store is perfect for beginners.

You can help Dylan’s efforts of preserving the Glennwanis Hotel and get an excellent talking piece by purchasing his coffee table book featuring some of his most impressive sandcastles throughout the years. The books are available on his website and all of the profits generated are donated to the Friends of the Glennwanis Hotel. For more information, please contact the Georgia Sandman at (912) 654-2454 or thegeorgiasandman@gmail.com. And as the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man, so get your copy today!