Atlantic seaboard weather set to ease

Calmer conditions expected tomorrow as full impact of the elements is assessed


The storm force winds and surging seas which have ripped up roads, flooded homes and businesses and caused widespread disruption along the Atlantic seaboard are expected to ease by tomorrow, as local authorities assess the full impact of the elements.

Connemara and the islands bore the brunt of yesterday’s south to south-westerly winds and heavy sea swell, with high tides compounding flooding which occurred in vulnerable coastal areas late last week.

While wind speeds did not reach the hurricane force category which hit Galway docks on December 27th and again in the early hours of January 3rd, when Inishbofin lost its island harbour lighthouse, an Atlantic swell knocked “decades” of walls built on the Aran islands, rolling into green fields yesterday morning and causing havoc on coastal routes.

“We have roads here which disappeared under a wall of stone this morning,” Inis Oírr co-op manager Paddy Crowe said yesterday.

“If we hadn’t had the Aer Arann service – which is under review – we’d have been cut off for a lot longer than we have been,” he said.

ESB crews were yesterday restoring power to hundreds of home affected by lightning, extending from Recess in the west across to Tuam in the north of the county, while local authority staff were attempting to clear rocks, boulders and other debris coughed up by the force of the ocean.

In Roundstone, the road leading to about 10 houses at Ervallagh about a mile from the village has been swept away, while four houses at the lower end of Roundstone village were flooded.

Roundstone community council treasurer Martin Conneely said that the most serious damage caused last Friday was exacerbated yesterday, with no access to Gurteen cemetery and a section of the road to Dog’s Bay also “rooted out”.

Tonnes of seaweed strewn several hundred yards up from Salthill promenade mark the extent of the surge which engulfed the Leisureland swimming pool and gym complex last week, and it is expected to re-open on a phased basis.

West of Galway, gardaí advised motorists coming through Spiddal to exercise caution, following severe wave damage on the seafront - which also swept away a coastal walkway between the village’s two piers.

Galway City Council has re-opened the road from Blackrock through to Salthill, which had been closed earlier due to “over-topping” of Salthill promenade by the heavy swell. However, the route from Seapoint to Grattan road remained closed throughout yesterday.

Pedestrians were advised to avoid Salthill promenade during high tide.

However, several swimmers ignored safety warnings to take a dip at Blackrock during the mid-tide yesterday morning.

Several local politicians, who have commended local authority staff and community groups for their response, have called for Government funding to assist cash-strapped local authorities, while former mayor and independent councillor Catherine Connolly said it was shocking that no member of Government had as yet visited the affected areas in the west.

Galway West Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne said he had received an assurance from Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Brian Hayes that any application from Galway County Council for minor flood relief schemes would be “fast tracked”.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar had told him he was awaiting a damage report from the local authority.