Dnal Nolan

HURRICANE-force storms might destroy trees and sand dune systems but they can't destroy community pride as the people of Ballyheigue showed when they carried out a massive, post storm clean-up that unburdened the beach of over 400 bags of rubbish.

Over 60 locals of all ages took part in the operation that transformed the beach in the space of just three hours.

"Looking at the scale of the rubbish and damage initially you would think you would never be able to make a start on it, but three hours later it was like a different beach thanks to the hard work of everyone who took part," Ballyheigue Fianna Fáil County Councillor and clean-up organiser John Brassil said.

"The response was extremely heartening and shows just how fantastic a community we have here and how much Ballyheigue values it beach."

Locals were divided into teams and given specific areas to clean in an operation that saw trailer loads of sorm-driven rubbish removed from the iconic beach.

"We're halfway there now so I'm pretty confident our next clean-up will get us all the way. However, the storms dumped a lot of stones into the dunes that will have to be removed using heavy machinery.

"I've been talking to the engineer for the area and we have a plan in place so I'm confident that will be addressed soon," Cllr Brassil said. Up to six metres of sand was washed away from the foot of the dunes by the succession of recent storms, with the sea breaching a wide area close to the village.

It is hoped that Kerry County Council's application for Government funding for storm repairs will provide up to €25,000 to deliver dune protection for Ballyheigue.

"The other big concern is erosion along the Cliff Road. The cliff face is flush with the road now in parts, but Kerry County Council have also included this in its application and I would be hopeful that a figure somewhere in the region of €300,000 to €400,000 would provide rock armour protection here that would last us another century," Cllr Brassil said.

The clean-up was one of the county's first major community efforts following the stormy period. It took place on the same weekend as the Fianna Fáil councillor launched his campaign for re-election to the county authority that was attended by party MEP Brian Crowley at Kirby's Bar.

"The EU Regional Fund is available to help Ireland protect its coastline, but no application has gone in for aid for the State in what I believe is completely unacceptable," Cllr Brassil said.


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