THE GEORGIA SANDMAN: Georgia's sandcastle king doesn't mind getting his hand dirty

“The Georgia Sandman” Dylan Mulligan poses with one of his favorite sand-builds, Highclere Castle, the famous dwelling from the hit television program “Downtown Abbey.”
“The Georgia Sandman” Dylan Mulligan poses with one of his favorite sand-builds, Highclere Castle, the famous dwelling from the hit television program “Downtown Abbey.”

Monday through Friday, you’ll find Dylan Mulligan working as a lawyer in Glennville. 

But when the weekend rolls around, he hits the beach and changes his title to “The Georgia Sandman.”

Mulligan said he has been playing in the sand since he was a toddler—creating most of his memories on the Georgia coast, just down the road from Savannah in McIntosh County. 

Since then, he has continued to expand his sand-sculpting skills creating the persona he has today, and getting him quite a bit of regional notoriety.

His imagination continues to lead in the creation of sandcastles that continue to grow in size and complexity.

“Just a few years ago I started building actual buildings - replicas of actual buildings,” Mulligan said. “I’ve done things like the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah. I’ve done the lighthouses of Georgia. I’ve done Sanford Stadium from the University of Georgia, things like that. I go out and build these various creations for people to enjoy.” 

During the summer months, Mulligan finds himself escaping to the nearby shores, creating sand structures every other week. 

Although he can’t pinpoint the exact number, he said the number of sand structures he has created is in the hundreds. Members of the community request most of his pieces, hoping to see their favorite building come to life in the form of a sand structure.

“What prompted it and started moving me in that direction was I had done a replica of a historic hotel in Glennville called the Glennwanis Hotel,” Mulligan said. “I’ve been on a committee for a number of years that has been working to restore the old hotel as a new home for our existing museum.”

After building the hotel replica, Mulligan realized he could raise awareness and funds for historic preservations leading to the multitude of collaborations he’s worked on to date. Most of his work is done on Blackbeard Island and the tidal sandbars of Shellman Bluff, but he’s also gone as far as East Beach on St. Simons Island, Tybee Island, and Ponce Inlet, Florida. 

For Mulligan, sculpting is an escape from the stress of everyday life.

“It's my hobby, I guess it’s somewhat therapeutic to an extent,” Mulligan said. “You know, when you’re growing up spending as much time as I did on the coast and out on the water and beach—it was a natural hobby that developed.”

He’s just compiled some of his most famous images in a book—available for purchase on his website—the proceeds of which go to help the restoration of the Glennwanis Hotel in Glennville.

Depending on the size and complexity, the structure can take him as little as an hour or two on small ones or up to 11 hours or multiple days on bigger ones. On average, Mulligan said it will take him four to five hours.

Fine details of the structures are based on the actual building. Before starting the structure, he will study pictures and aerial views of the building on google to see the dimensions. Once Mulligan arrives at his construction site he draws an outline in the sand and continuously refers back to the photos to make sure he gets the details just right. 

“That's another important thing with this, if you want it to look right you have to get the proportions just right,” said Mulligan. “Otherwise you won’t be able to tell what the building is. So I try to scale it down.”

Mulligan said he is always open to suggestions. If there’s a building you would like to see, let him know! 

Visit The Georgia Sandman’s website at thegeorgiasandman.square.site

Follow him on both Instagram and Facebook @thegeorgiasandman