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Achill aftermath a bitter pill


The lower level of Ann McHugh’s house in Dooagh was destroyed by the effects of the storm on Thursday and yesterday (Monday) morning.
?The lower level of Ann McHugh’s house in Dooagh was destroyed by the effects of the storm on Thursday and yesterday (Monday) morning.

Achill aftermath a bitter pill

Edwin McGreal

A combination of high tides, storm-force south westerly winds and a fearsome Atlantic swell saw the full might of the Atlantic unleashed on southern parts of Achill Island in recent days.
The villages of Dooagh, Keel, Dooega and Cloughmore felt the brunt of the wild sea, and locals are this week starting the mammoth job of cleaning up the mess and repairing the damage.

Dooagh worst hit
The village of Dooagh, the most westerly village on the island, was worst affected.
The home of Ann McHugh in the centre of the village, close to the seashore, was flooded not once but twice in recent days. The sea washed into the lower floor of her two-storey house on Thursday night and did likewise again on Monday morning, causing significant damage.
It’s the family home where Ms McHugh has lived all her life. Situated alongside the river in Dooagh, right in front of the sea, the natural channel that was the river guided a lot of the sea swell towards the house.
On Thursday, it forced open a door and the seawater flooded into the house. The flood was more fearsome yesterday, when three windows and two doors were broken by the powerful waters. Kitchen appliances, flooring and beds were among the materials damaged.
All around the village, the effects of Thursday night’s storm could be seen on Friday and Saturday. Solid cement footpaths were ripped from the ground at the car park at Dooagh Beach. The rest of the car park looked like a dumpsite for every type of rock and stone imaginable.
To the west of the village, access to a home was cut off with rocks washed up from the sea and strewn along the road. Along with Ann McHugh’s house, the windows in several other houses were broken in by the in-rushing waters.
The seaside village – once classified as the largest village in Europe – was particularly vulnerable during Thursday’s storm, as nothing stood between it and the south westerly winds that gusted in from the open Atlantic Ocean.
Keel beach bears brunt
Neighbouring Keel was also ravaged, but most houses there are set back a little further from the beach and so structural damage to buildings was not as great as it was at Dooagh.
However, damage to the beach itself was significant, and many of the famous Keel Sandybanks sand dunes were washed away by the tempestuous sea on Thursday night. On Saturday, mechanical diggers were being used in an effort to restore the Sandybanks.
Achill Golf Club, situated in Keel, was almost completely covered in water as were the adjacent sports pitches, while Keel lake appeared to have doubled in size.
The 20-metre whale that washed up on Keel beach over the Christmas was nowhere to be seen by the time the storm landed though: Mayo County Council staff had buried the carcass in the sand on Keel beach earlier in the week.
At Purteen Harbour, fishing boats suffered considerable damage, and many fishing pots have been washed into the harbour. Rocks cover the approach road.

Dooega counts the cost
Further east, Dooega also suffered. Many roads near the sea were ripped up and tarmacadam was scattered all over the surrounding landscape. One road, leading to a number of houses in the west of the village, was partially washed away, while the remaining part of the road is now on the cliff edge.
A large part of the strong sea wall at Dooega beach has been smashed to pieces, while a bridge on an adjoining shoreline which crosses over a river has been split in half.

Cloughmore clean-up
At the pier in Cloughmore there is considerable damage too. Fishermen who work from there have spent hours trying to clean up the mess left behind by the raging sea.