Six Co Clare families stranded as sea engulfs road
New sections of promenade wall broken as Coastguard building hit
Six families have been left cut off by the sea on the Loophead Peninsula in Co Clare as storms lash the west Coast.
The families have been completely cut of since last Thursday night and while their homes are elevated and unaffected by flooding, they have no way of getting into the nearby village of Carrigaholt for food, fuel or other necessities. A regional road leading to the 6 homes and the college has been competed engulfed by the sea. A track road that had been the only access until last Friday has also been completed submerged.
Carrigaholt postmaster Patrick Gavin lives in Kilredaun which has been completely cut off from the mainland by the sea. Mr Gavin managed to open the post office for half the day on Friday after a local farmer took him through the floods on his tractor. That lane has since been covered by the sea and there are fears that some of it has been washed away.
“Six homes and the Irish college are now cut off. I’ve been living in the area since 1997 and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Before I even came here, locals had been promised that minor issues with the retaining wall would be sorted. But what would have been a small job then, will be a massive undertaking but it has to be sorted,” Mr Gavin said.
“People have been ringing up asking if they can bring us anything but they can’t get in to us. We have no issue with Clare County Council and they’ve been very good to us but central Government must sort this out once and for all,” he added.
In Lahinch, meanwhile, further sections of the promenade wall disintegrated sending parts of it across a flooded carpark. The same prom and carpark were left devastated following Friday’s storms.
Work crews had spent the weekend gathering rubble from Friday’s battering by the elements into several large piles along the carpark. Today however further debris, including large chunks of concrete walls, was strewn over a wide area.
Irish Hotel’s Federation President and Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan said: “If the sea wall that was erected back in the 80s wasn’t built the Seaworld, the golf course and the sea front businesses would be destroyed.
“You can never beat the brute force of nature but we have do out best. We are going to have storms like this so we just have to get on with it. Lahinch will come back bigger and better but we do need to invest in coastal defences in vulnerable areas to minimise damage in the future,” Mr Vaughan added.
A prefab building, part of the the Irish Coast Guard’s station in Doolin, was left floating in several feet of water and only prevented from being washed away by a small boundary wall.
The unit’s main building, a 150-year-old shed, was also flooded after its front shutter door was buckled under the pressure of surging water. Radio and paging equipment, along with historical call-out documents, were lost or water damaged in Friday’s surge.
Unit members moved as much equipment as they could salvage out of the buildings before today’s storm. The 25-trong team, one of the busiest in the country, hope to move into a new purposed-built station in April.
Irish Coast Guard area officer Mattie Shannon said: “We’ve been hit a second time but most of our equipment is being stored in my own house. The road to the pier is blocked and the slipway itself is blocked by a massive boulder. It must at least 10 tonne.
“The conditions are too bad to launch our boats if we needed to but when it all dies down, and we need to launch, we can do so from another location. The helicopter is best placed at the moment to cover any major incidents,” Mr Shannon added.
Ferry companies based at Doolin pier used ropes to secure their office buildings to large boulders in the hope they wouldn’t be washed any further inland that they were on Friday.
The road and sea wall at Kilbaha on the Loophead Peninsula were extensively damaged while flooding was reported over a wide area of west Clare.
The centuries-old harbour pier and wall at Liscannor sustained further extensive damage while houses in the lower harbour area were flooded.
Despite warnings from the Irish Coast Guard, Irish Water Safety and local authorities about the ranges of being near the coast during the current stormy weather, hundreds of people turned out in Lahinch and Doolin to see the storm surges for themselves.
One man travelled form Dublin on Sunday night and set up his camera on a hill overlooking the town of Lahinch.
Anthony Creamer said: “I’ve been watching the news and papers for the past few days and the images have been breathtaking. I just jumped in the car and car over to Lahinch and it has been spectacular, absolutely incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”