A large crowd of people were dispersed at a local beauty spot in Cork on St Patrick's Day after reports that an impromptu ball game had gotten out of control.
Eyewitnesses at the Lough near Cork City, a residential road fronting on to a green area and small lake, said gardaí brought the situation under control within 10 minutes.
Gardaí confirmed they confronted those at the gathering which took place at about 6pm. Video circulating on social media showed the group quickly dispersing when gardaí arrived.
One local resident told The Irish Times that the situation appeared to be good natured and passed without any obvious incident.
It is believed a ball game inadvertently brought several smaller groups of young people in the green area together. In a boisterous atmosphere, a teenager was filmed jumping into the water.
“It was quite calm; it was mobbed but everyone was in their own groups [in the build-up] and then it kind of escalated,” said the resident. “It turned into one big mass gathering.”
The area was said to be left littered as a result of the quick dispersal but locals reported seeing a number of youths, and even some gardaí, cleaning up with black sacks.
“Within 10 minutes of the guards turning up they had it all dispersed,” the resident said.
Although seemingly good natured, the large gathering was exactly the type of St Patrick’s Day occurrence health officials and gardaí had hoped would not take place on Wednesday, with strong public appeals aimed at preventing them.
In a statement, a Garda spokeswoman said members attended the Lough area of Cork where “a number of persons were gathered . . . [and] engaged with persons present and the crowd dispersed”.
“The public health regulations place restrictions on individuals meeting outdoors and on travel outside the home without a reasonable excuse.
"The Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with public health guidelines and regulations, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives."
There were also large crowds of young people gathering in the Grand Parade, the South Mall and Cornmarket Street in Cork city centre but they dispersed when asked to do so by gardaí
However on Tuesday, gardaí issued over 30 on the spot fines to young people who congregated in a number of areas including on College Road near UCC in breach of government rules on Covid 19.