More than 23,000 customers in west and south left without power
Some 250 personnel involved in major operation to repair damaged lines
The remains of a prefabricated classroom roof at CBS primary school in Tralee. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus.
About 250 ESB Networks repair crews worked until 9pm yesterday to reconnect supplies to more than 23,000 customers in the midlands and south, most of them in Cork and Kerry, who had been left without power after hurricane-strong winds pummelled the region.
Winds hit top speeds of 59 knots at Met Éireann’s monitoring station at Cork Airport on several occasions on Thursday night and early yesterday morning, while a top wind of 72 knots was recorded on Sherkin Island off west Cork.
The high winds resulted in trees being knocked over and power lines being pulled down while ESB poles were also knocked by powerful gusts.
According to ESB Networks southern division manager Denis Cambridge, power was expected to be restored to all but 1,600 homes last night in the southern division, which extends from Laois through parts of Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and Kerry.
Mr Cambridge said he expected power would be restored to all but 700 homes around Dunmanway and Bandon in west Cork, 250 homes around Macroom and Coachford in mid-Cork, 50 homes near Fermoy in north Cork and 700 homes around Killarney, Co Kerry.
ESB Network crews worked from first light to restore power to several thousand affected homes in Cork city including 1,800 homes in Fair Hill, 560 homes in Mayfield, 1,200 homes in Rochestown and Carrigaline as well as another 1,500 homes in Aherla, Farnanes and Cloghroe in mid-Cork.
Some 13,000 homes were left without electricity in Kerry and dozens of roads were closed. The storm brought down large numbers of mature trees, blocking some of the county’s main thoroughfares. However, in Tralee where the roof of a school building was lifted and blown 60 yards, a line of trees was credited with saving houses opposite from damage.
The timber roof of a classroom at CBS primary school in Clounalour was lifted and blown towards the main road but was stopped in its path by a line of trees. Denis Coleman, school principal, was assessing the damage at the scene yesterday. The children’s Santa pictures and other work lining the classroom were completely destroyed – but Mr Coleman said he and his staff were very thankful no one was hurt and the damage was largely contained.
The force of the storm was quite “amazing” in that it carried the heavy roof of the 14ft high building so far, he said. “The wind blew off the roof and carried it across the yard, by 60 yards. But for the trees, there would have been far more damage,” he said.
A spokesman for the ESB in Kerry asked people to “stay away” from wires on the ground for their own safety. Crews were out from midnight on Thursday to deal with high-voltage lines brought down when storms reached 150km/h. All that could be done was to make them safe, and it would be some time before power was restored to homes in Kenmare, Dingle, Killarney, Tralee and Listowel, a spokesman said yesterday.
Kerry County Council crews were also out from midnight responding to Garda calls for assistance in unblocking main roads. Mission Road and Rookery Road in Killarney town were closed, while the Abbeydorney to Tralee road was also closed. The Killarney to Kenmare road via Moll’s Gap was also closed but crews were working to re-open it.