Dark sky snapper sparks sniper scare
There were bizarre scenes in south Kerry when a major security alert was sparked by a star-gazing photographer was mistaken for a sniper.
As dusk settled over the picturesque south Kerry bay on the Sunday of last weekend, a Cork-based photographer began to set up his camera equipment on the beach.
Little did he know that his trip to capture images of the night sky – in Derrynane at Caherdaniel – was about to prompt a most unusual series of events.
As the photographer crossed the beach, carrying a camera tripod, he was spotted by a walker on the dunes who mistakenly assumed that the innocent lens-man was carrying a rifle and out to do harm.
The panicked passer-by immediately contacted gardaí and informed them that a dangerous gunman was on the prowl in Derrynane.
This call prompted a dramatic response with a large number of armed Gardaí – some of whom, it is understood, had been dispatched from Tralee and Killarney – descending on Derrynane.
Gardaí, following standard emergency protocols, cordoned off the immediate area and the public were warned to stay away.
Meanwhile some residents of properties and mobile homes near the beach said they were held behind roadblocks as Gardaí combed the area for the ‘sniper’.
As the search progressed significant numbers of gardaí continued to come and go though nearby Caherdaniel.
In the village locals and holiday-makers watched the drama unfold with a mixture of confusion and growing bemusement.
One local told The Kerryman that the situation steadily "got more and more bizarre" and that at one point Gardaí had entered a pub in the village seeking to borrow a set of binoculars.
The bar’s staff and patrons were unable to assist but a villager quickly came to the guards’ aid, providing them with a set of field glasses to help in their search.
Eventually gardaí were able to locate the photographer – who was completely unaware of the commotion his presence had caused – and, having established that there was no danger to anyone, the security alert was cancelled.
A Garda spokesperson, who confirmed the basic facts of the incident, said that for operational reasons the precise details of the search, and the units that responded to the alert, can not be disclosed.