South Kerry coastal area fares worst as thousands left without electricity

Slates come off St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney, hundreds of mature trees uprooted

Fenit pier: Hurricane Ophelia makes landfall off the west coast of Kerry on Monday. Photograph: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus

By 2.30pm yesterday, when the worst of Storm Ophelia had passed over Kerry, hundreds of mature trees had been blown down, several places had suffered flooding and thousands of people were left without electricity supply.

The south Kerry coastal area, along with Kenmare and Killarney, took the brunt. Slates came off St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney, the town’s tallest building, and trees were brought down in Killarney National Park which had been closed to the public as a safety precaution.

The storm began gathering from 7am but its full ferocity was not felt until shortly after noon. Trees came down in many places, the most visible impact of the storm.

“Trees are down everywhere. There is no place that hasn’t been affected,” Sgt Dermot O’Connell said in Killarney. Some roads were blocked by the fallen trees.


Kerry County Council appealed for patience when it published a list of up to 40 locations from the Healy Pass in the south to Lixnaw village in the north where trees came down. The main Ring of Kerry road at Moll’s Gap remained closed and cycle lanes were blocked in the Killarney area. The council said it would deal with the blockages and debris as quickly as it could.

Narrow escape

Farm manager Sean Moriarty had a narrow escape when a tree came down in front of his tractor shortly after 2pm in Fossa, outside Killarney. The area along the N72 between Killarney and Killorglin was strewn with fallen branches and larger parts of trees.

The N71 Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen road was impassable with flooding and warnings were issued asking drivers to avoid it.

Many services in Kerry were closed in advance of the storm. Rubbish collections had been suspended, town parks were closed and non-emergency medical appointments had been cancelled. Visitor attractions such as the Tralee Wetlands were shut.

The monthly meeting of Kerry County Council, which was due to discuss wind energy, was postponed.


Funerals due to take place in a number of churches from Killarney to Listry to Barraduff were put back.

Shops, factories, credit unions and bank branches also closed, partly because there were few customers out and about, but also to allow staff to remain at home safely.

Liebherr Ireland, Kerry’s biggest private sector employer, which is located near Killarney Golf Club, had told its 1,000 strong workforce not to come in.

Meals for the elderly were delivered on Sunday night by a number of resource centres.

The streets of Killarney were deserted – an unusual sight in one of the country’s busiest tourist towns when the October shoulder season brings a lot of visitors.

Killarney hotelier Tom Randles, who is chairman of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, said guests are huddling by the firesides in hotels. “Everyone is staying indoors by the fire, but the fire is being blown down the chimney.”

‘Danger of darkness’

Much of the town was without electricity from early morning, which particularly affected smaller and older hotels without generators.

“The big worry from a hotel point of view is the danger of darkness. When the power is out, lifts don’t work, computers are down,” Mr Randles said.

A safety inspection will take place in Killarney National Park before it reopens to the public.

Almost 20,000 people were without power in Kerry on Monday night. The council appealed to the public to report wires down and not to touch fallen lines.