LOCAL residents had a lucky escape after winds of more than 100kph tore off a large section of a secondary school roof, which landed in the school car park.
The section of the metal roof measuring about 10 metres by 20 metres was ripped off the front part of Colaiste Cois Life on Castle Road in Lucan, Co Dublin by gale-force winds. The roof blew over the two-storey school and landed in a twisted heap with sections of roofing felt and insulation strewn all over the schoolyard.
Most of the debris landed within the confines of the school yard, which is fenced off.
No one was injured and no other property was damaged.
School principal Tomas O Donnagain said the school's alarm went off around 4am on Friday morning, which is when he believes the devastating southeast winds struck.
"The roof just peeled off," he told the Irish Independent.
Another section of the metal roof was still dangling perilously on top of the building several hours later, prompting Mr O Donnagain to order passers-by to keep away from the site.
At least four classrooms on the second floor of the school were badly damaged and may have suffered water damage as rain leaked in through the roof.
However, he said the six-year-old school should be able to open normally when classes resume in January.
Local residents said it was lucky that the incident happened in the middle of the night when no one was around and that the wind carried the debris away from their houses instead of towards them.
Father-of-three Paul Carr, who lives in the Esker Meadow housing estate opposite the school, said it was fortunate the school was situated at the end of a cul-de-sac and is self-enclosed.
"It's lucky it's built where it is and the wind blew in the right direction," he said.
Another local, Steven Murray from Esker Meadow Green, said the wind was so strong that it blew his children's playhouse from the back garden on to the deck and "clattered the roof" waking him up.
But it wasn't until around 9am when he looked out his daughter's bedroom window and saw that the school roof had been blown off.
"It's bad enough, isn't it?" he said as he stood outside the school surveying the damage.
"I was thankful that the wind blew away from the estate. (Otherwise) it could have done a lot of damage," he said.
Meanwhile, in Tralee, Co Kerry, the CBS primary school had the roof of one of its pre-fabs ripped off.
Principal Denis Coleman was astounded to realise that the force of the wind not only ripped the roof off the pre-fab but flipped it over the main school building and carried it for 150m before it hit and knocked over a large tree.
"It was absolutely incredible. But we were very lucky to have such great support from the board of management and parents, with people arriving from early morning to help clean up the mess and prevent further damage to the portakabin," Mr Coleman said.