'I can't recall a recent storm that's had the same ferocity'
Published 06/01/2014 | 02:30
O'Looney's Bar and Restaurant in Lahinch, Co Clare, was hit by 40ft waves in recent days. Owner Antoin O'Looney, who is counting the cost of the storm, says it's decades since the seaside town has taken such a battering:
'I WAS born and reared in Lahinch and opened a pub here in 1991.
I'm third generation in business here and I can't recall a recent storm that's had the same ferocity, not since I was a child, that was the last time the promenade was badly broken up.
My father Odran is 80 this year, he's lived in Lahinch all his life -- and he doesn't remember anything as ferocious as what hit us this time.
We've had a spring tide, massive waves and the storm behind it.
If you get those three things together, they'll smash anything.
We built our new premises in 2007 to withstand this kind of weather -- a once-in-a-lifetime storm.
A tsunami could hit us and we'd be still standing.
But we've taken an unbelievable battering.
The pub's alarm went off at 6am on Thursday morning. When I got there 10 minutes later the fire brigade had blocked everything off and they were evacuating people from the houses on the prom.
It took me 20-25 minutes to get into the building because the surge of the water between the two buildings was up to my chest level.
I had to wait until it calmed down because otherwise I'd be swept out to sea.
I looked into my premises and could see the water cascading down the stairs inside.
Water filled the basement where my office, preparation kitchen, and toilets are located.
A manhole cover whipped up by the waves hit a window and shattered it.
The computers that operate the tills are in the basement and I don't know how much it's going to cost to repair the damage -- it will run into tens of thousands.
My main focus at the moment is preparing for the next whack.
There were pictures in the paper of Lahinch getting hit by massive waves on Friday night.
You can actually just make out our chimney pot and the waves were about 20ft over that again.
I stayed in the pub again last night -- just monitoring so that if we do get a breach, we can shore it up as quick as we can.
I don't know when we'll be open again. It won't be this week because we don't know how extreme the weather is going to be in the coming days.
The weather alert has gone from yellow to orange.
It's not over yet."