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Sunday 15 September 2019

'The fear is there all the time' - family terrified they could lose their dream home to the sea

Fearful: Patrick, Noreen and Sophie O’Sullivan pictured at their home in Lower Cromane, Co Kerry
Photo: Don MacMonagle
Fearful: Patrick, Noreen and Sophie O’Sullivan pictured at their home in Lower Cromane, Co Kerry Photo: Don MacMonagle
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A father is appealing for urgent help to protect his and other family houses from coastal erosion, as he fears the "sea is eating away at our home".

Patrick O'Sullivan (40) has lived in Cromane, Killorglin, Co Kerry, all his life. When he married and started a family he decided to build a four-bedroom €250,000 home overlooking the sea, only yards from his childhood home.

"We moved in, in May 2007, and it was like a dream to us," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"If I could just pack up and leave I'd go, but I can't because my family are here, my business is here, my life is here. I'm paying a mortgage of €1,000 a month for a house I can't get insured against flood damage, but we live in a high-risk flood area."

Mr O'Sullivan and his wife Noreen (37) and children Joshua (13), Emily (8), Sophie (4) and seven-week-old Adam live around 300 metres from the sea. The fisherman, who monitors the sea every day, said: "I can see the water rising all the time.

"With every storm I'm on edge, I'm constantly watching the sea.

"A month ago we had a storm and I was driving up the road at 5am monitoring the tide level to see how high it was.

"That's not a nice way to live, it's that fear, it's there all the time."

He realised in 2014 he was living in an area that could be flooded by the sea's force.

On January 3 that year sea water came rushing into the family's home at 6am, "like a bullet".

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran
Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran

The power of the deluge broke an embankment close to the house, destroying electric items, furniture and flooring.

Kerry County Council had been granted almost €100,000 by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to repair the barrier but the funding wasn't enough to complete the kilometre of work that needed to be done.

But since 2014, Mr O'Sullivan has progressively noticed "chunks" of land falling away from the coastline near his home.

"I've lived here all my life," he said.

"We were insured, but now we're classed as living in a high-risk flood area, so we can't even get insurance.

"The sea needs to be stopped from eating this place."

A Kerry County Council spokesman said the local authority "has received funding approval from the OPW to carry out a Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management (CFERM) study in Castlemaine Harbour, which includes the Cromane Lower area".

"This study is required ahead of any proposed major works that could, for example, have a knock-on effect further along the coastline with regards either erosion or flooding.

"This study will be carried out in 2019."

The OPW did not comment.

Kerry County Council said that it would not give details of the funding as the project is shortly to go out to tender.

Irish Independent

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