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Famine wall is demolished as torrential floods strike Beara

October 11th, 2016 1:06 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The remains of the famine wall which was demolised by Monday's flood waters. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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HEAVY floods demolished an ancient famine wall in Beara on Monday night and caused 10 roads throughout the peninsula to become impassable.

Martin Cronin, who lives at St Martin’s Avenue in Castletownbere, explained that the ancient wall, which is located at the end of his road, crumbled under the pressure of the flood.

‘In the past, we had all seen water coming through the wall, but on this occasion it collapsed because of the pressure behind it,’ he told The Southern Star.

‘I was at home on Monday night and at 9.30pm I heard a rumbling and looked out the window and saw a river running down the road. I saw my van taking off and my neighbour’s car was also pushed about 15 or 20ft by the flood water, which was about three-and-a-half-foot high.’

About 10 years ago, Martin Cronin secured a preservation order on the famine wall from Cork County Council because he feared it would be knocked to make way for a new housing development.

He said he felt it was important to retain the wall that was built in 1812. And he said he would now be campaigning to have the old stone retained on site and used in the rebuilding of the wall.

Castletownbere Fire Station officer, Oliver O’Sullivan, described the weather in Beara on Sunday and Monday as ‘Biblical’.

He said: ‘It was the heaviest rainfall I have seen in 40 years. The flow of water at times was unreal.

‘We did what we could by putting up sandbags, clearing debris, and pumping surface water off the road,’ said the station officer, who said he also saw ‘trees come out through ditches’. 

Oliver said the fire brigade crew of 10, the Council staff and gardaí all worked together to deal with the flooding throughout the peninsula over a 48-hour period.

Cork County Council area engineer Aidan Prendergast confirmed that road surfaces in some areas had been ‘ripped’ by the surface water, but he said the Council’s main concern will be to clear the pipe network, which is likely to have become silted-up in places as a result of the deluge, as well as replacing pipes that have been damaged.

‘It rained all day Sunday and all day Monday, but there was massive amounts of rain from 4pm on Monday until about 9pm, which caused roads in ten different locations to be flooded,’ said the engineer.

The main floods occurred on the road from Adrigole towards Castletownbere, as well as from Allihies to Eyeries, and on the road at Gleanara towards Dursey.

‘In these areas,’ Aidan said, ‘the pipes couldn’t take the intensity of the rainfall and the massive run-off from adjoining lands onto the public road.

‘We pulled all the crews from other jobs and put everybody on it. Where there were blockages, we worked to clear the blockages, but primarily the surface water flooding happened because the pipes could not take the volume of water.’

The engineer confirmed that a €350,000 project to upsize the pipe network in the region is being carried out at present, but there are still seven more areas to complete. He explained: ‘The old pipes are no longer capable of taking these severe weather events.’ 

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