Rossbeigh dunes disappearing

Over five million tonnes of sand lost at mid kerry beach in five years

Erosion at Rossbeigh beach, this photograph was taken soon after the first breach back in December 2008 by David Marmion.
Erosion at Rossbeigh beach, this photograph was taken soon after the first breach back in December 2008 by David Marmion.

Kevin Hughes

ALMOST five years after fragile dunes were washed into the Atlantic at Rossbeigh Beach, data is still being collected to find out exactly how the collapse occurred and whether a solution can be found to prevent further erosion.

Over five million tonnes of sand have already been lost at the blue flag beach and dunes continue to disappear at an alarming rate. The breach has also left coastal communities, once protected by the spit, dangerously exposed to potential flooding, while conditions underfoot at the northern end of the beach are increasingly treacherous.

The issue was raised at Friday's Killorglin area meeting where local residents repeated their call for action to save the remaining sand dunes.

"We were last here (at an area meeting) three-and-a-half years ago and were told that Rossbeigh was to be surveyed. What has happened with that as we have heard nothing since," local man Jimmy Healy questioned.

Senior Executive Engineer Eamon Scanlon said that UCC had been carrying out an intensive study and international experts, including two eminent Dutch experts, had also surveyed the area in one of the most extensive coastal studies anywhere in Ireland.

"We need to fully understand before we do any possible remediation works and it can take months and even years to study the effects properly," the engineer stated, adding: "I'm confident the channel has shifted and moved to the top end of Rossbeigh".

Claiming that rock armour would not work as it would eventually sink and create more problems, Mr Scanlon stated that sand dredging would be extremely expensive and funding would be difficult to attain as between €2m and €3m was already owed for works previously carried out at Inch.

Mr Healy said he had been watching the area for almost 70 years and was now watching the beach decay at an unbelievable rate. He added that it was now a case of "a stitch in time".

"You won't be talking about Rossbeigh at all due to the delta effect," he added.

Also present at the deputation brought by Cllr PJ Donovan were Kevin Griffin, Michael O'Sullivan and Cllr John Sheahan.

"Any action at this stage might be pioneering, just try something," Mr Griffin stated, pointing out that a base of white clay had recently been exposed and he added: "don't let it go down in history that we didn't try something".

All councillors gave their support, including local resident Cllr Michael Cahill who labelled Rossbeigh as one of Kerry's greatest amenities and claimed that it hadn't been given the priority it deserves.

"There is huge concern and it has taken an awful hammering in the last 10 to 12 years. The minister said there was no funding but I have asked the council to write to the European Parliament to carry out a pilot project," he added.

Area Manager John Flynn said that the wrong action would be 10 times worse than no action. Studies are to continue in the area.