The equilibrium planform concept (EPC) for bayed beaches has achieved wide currency in coastal morphodynamics. The north coast of Ireland comprises a series of discrete headland-embayment beaches within which waves and currents recycle a finite sediment volume. It is therefore an ideal setting in which to explore the applicability of the concept. Application of the approach to 9 embayment beaches on the north coast of Ireland provides some insights into the application of the concept. The planform of some beaches does correspond to that predicted while others do not. Those whose measured planform does not correspond to the predicted planform can be interpreted through, (a) difficulty in identifying the wave diffraction point, (b) disequilibrium on the beach (sediment scarcity or excess), (c) geological control of beach morphology. The subjectivity in selecting the diffraction point renders alternative explanations difficult and reduces the utility of the approach on natural shorelines, where significant irregularities render identification of such points difficult.