A scene of devastation at Rossbeigh Beach
Published 08/01/2014 | 05:36
TARMAC ripped apart, a playground destroyed, dunes obliterated and there's more to come.
Storm-ravaged Rossbeigh Beach has borne the brunt of a freak weather event that has simply destroyed one of the county's premier tourist sites.
Last week The Kerryman reported how 20 acres - almost one million tonnes - of sand dunes had been wiped from the blue flag beach following storms on St Stephen's Night.
Last weekend the heavy storms returned and, combined with a tidal surge, the results were devastating.
On Friday morning stunned locals awoke to find that a one kilometre stretch of road had been obliterated, the high tide lifting the tarmac and flinging rocks and boulders throughout the area and destroying a recently installed playground that had been hard won by locals.
A spokesperson for Kerry County Council said the relevant departments will meet over the coming days to assess damage and decide whether or not to carry out any repair works ahead of high tides expected on February 1. As for the dunes, the news was less hopeful and will do little to reassure homeowners in low lying areas who are now at serious risk from Atlantic surges as the natural sand barrier depletes further.
"The only thing that can really be done is to dredge the sand but there is no guarantee this would work and there is little chance of funding at national and EU levels," a council spokesperson said.
"There have been several studies carried out and the conclusion is that little can be done to protect the sand banks so the focus is on protecting the embankments," he added.
Local councillor Michael Cahill called on Kerry County Council to seek EU funding to tackle erosion that, he claims, has been neglected both by the OPW and council.
"It was absolutely devastating and this high tide has caused more damage than any of the tides in the last number of decades," he said, adding that it was no longer just Rossbeigh's problem but now concerned low lying areas such as Incharee, Keelnabrack, Dooks, Glosha and Cromane Point.
"Successive governments have ignored this and we are pleading for swift action. There was also tidal flooding in lower Killorglin and hundreds of homes are at risk in the entire area," he added.
Local activist Johnny Porridge O'Connor, meanwhile, said it was imperative that the OPW take action immediately.