Why did sea water levels drop dramatically in West Cork last weekend?

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Last Saturday, residents of the west Cork towns of Courtmacsherry and Union Hall were left perplexed and feeling uneasy when unusual tidal activity saw water levels in both harbours drop dramatically.

The sudden change in water levels left boats stranded and caused concern among locals that a tsunami could be heading towards them.

Memories of the damage caused by the effects of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami remains fixed in the psyche of many west Cork locals. That 18th-century tsunami’s towering waves are said to have caused the partial destruction of Galway’s Spanish Arch, and records describe a large body of water pouring into Kinsale harbour.

What exactly happened on Ireland’s southwest coast last weekend and could it have been a mini-tsunami caused by an earthquake, just like in 1755?


Today, on In the News, we ask could a tsunami hit Ireland and if so, how prepared are we?

Oceanographer Dr Gerard McCarthy joins the podcast to discuss what caused the water in west Cork to recede so quickly and the possibility of a tsunami-like event hitting Ireland in the future. Courtmacsherry charter boat operator David Edwards recalls what happened when the water suddenly dropped last Saturday.

In The News is presented by Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope and produced by Declan Conlan, Jennifer Ryan and Suzanne Brennan.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast