A FREAK tornado tore through the centre of Castleisland at lunchtime on Friday last, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
The terrifying twister, which measured approximately 100 feet in width, ripped through the town in a matter of minutes, uprooting roof slates, knocking over walls and fences and breaking trees and shrubbery.
The majority of the damage was centred in the Cahereen Heights estate in town, with one local resident describing the phenomenon as one of the most frightening things he had even witnessed. The local man told The
Kerryman that as he made his way from his car to his house, the sky darkened before he was confronted by what appeared to be a tornado.
"To be honest, I don't know what it was but as I made my way into the house I saw this black/purple coloured thing in front of me, shaped like a horse shoe. It was about 50 yards away from me and about 100 ft wide and it took over the whole green [in the estate]. It was about five foot off the ground and the force of it was so intense. "I tried to make my way into the house and could hardly close the door with the force of it," he said.
The terrified man said that although the episode lasted only minutes, he witnessed slates being ripped off roofs and boundary fences being knocked over, before the tornado moved off into the distance.
"It was an extremely frightening experience, especially because I was so close to it. It lifted up over my head and I just got to the door before the slates started flying off the roofs. It also knocked over a strong boundary wall in a nearby house and a car window was also broken by a slate. I have no doubt that if there had been children out playing, they would have been taken away."
Fellow Cahereen Heights resident Tom Mccarthy captured the extraordinary events on his camcorder, after his attention was drawn to the darkening sky and intense hailstone.
The Castleisland publican said he opened the back door to see the tunnel of a tornado in the distance.
"First there was massive hailstone, then the whole place went dark and when I looked out the door and saw the twister. I got my camcorder and jumped up on the child's play house and recorded it as it headed away. It was nearly a quarter of a mile away at that stage but was still huge and it was only afterwards I realised the damage it had done," he said. AS if the budget of the previous week wasn't enough, Castleisland was hit by a tornado on Friday.
It touched down, hit and ran in the space of what seemed like mere seconds to witnesses.
Just like those who compiled the budget, the force hit heartlessly and ruthlessly and left, quite oblivious to the damage in its wake. During its brief encounter it left several households in the Cahereen Heights estate area counting the cost of its destructive visit.
It tore tiles from several roofs in the area and these in turn broke at least one car windscreen. Evidence of its sheer force could be seen clearly in a wall it demolished in the area.
The boundary wall was stoutly built and well pillared with six inch blocks on edge. However, the force of the tornado made light work of it. Further along, and beyond the wall, you could trace the path of destruction as a heavy trampoline could be seen crashed into a boundary wire fence.
The outburst was accompanied by a shower of the biggest hailstones seen in the area in years. One man described them as 'golf balls' another as 'half glownies' – a tilt towards exaggeration of course but they were the size of an average fore-finger nail all the same.
And, apparently, large hailstones are indeed a by product of tornados in other countries.
A woman who lives in Glounsharoon just happened to be looking out the front window of her house and had a ring-side view of Friday's frightening event.
"I saw it coming in along the valley. It was like a big, black cone in the sky. I could see it dipping down into the town and then lifting off into the sky again. It carried on in the sky and came down over somewhere in the Cordal area again," she said.
Another resident of the Cahereens Heights estate said that she saw it lift a packed and heavy industrial refuse bin and push it across the yard.
"It was amazing and anything in my neighbour's yard wasn't even disturbed," she said.
Looking at the trail of damage it left it is a miracle that no one was actually hurt by the tornado. This could possibly be attributed to the unprecedented ferocity of the hailstorm which just preceded it and which would, no doubt, have driven the sane amongst us for cover.