Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lethal tides hide beneath surface

Kevin Keane

FOR centuries, Youghal has provided a safe haven for fishermen and trading vessels making their way along Ireland's dangerous south coast.

But the waters around the entrance to the town's harbour can be treacherous and have claimed lives in the past.

During the summer months, lifeguards watch over the Youghal's main swimming spot – Front Strand, a long stretch of sandy beach that reaches west away from the town for miles. Like Front Strand, the nearby Moll Goggin's Strand, which claimed the life of 10-year-old Kyle Roche, also slopes gently into the sea and is generally a safe, if exposed, place to swim.

Moll Goggin's Strand overlooks the mouth of the Blackwater Estuary, one of Ireland's longest water systems with a tidal flow that reaches 30km upriver to the town of Lismore.

When this tide is flooding into the estuary or emptying back into the sea, strong currents can swirl just beneath the surface of the normally calm water.

Often these currents are invisible to the naked eye, however beneath an apparently calm surface a swirling mix of fast-moving water can prove lethal.

Swimmers can be pulled away from the safety of the beach with frightening rapidity, a terrifying experience for anyone who has ever gotten into trouble in the sea and a tragedy that happens all too often on Ireland's coasts.

Irish Independent

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