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‘Everything was eerily quiet’

T-shirts like this one were pictured on Facebook the day after the Belmullet Earthquake.
T-shirts like this one were pictured on Facebook the day after the Belmullet Earthquake.

‘Everything was eerily quiet’

Locals describe their experiences of the tremor

Áine Ryan and Anton McNulty

LOCAL resident, Ms Betty Schult, who runs Kilcommon Lodge Hostel, said she was having breakfast with her son just before 9am on Wednesday last, when they heard ‘a big noise’.
“Because we live on the Shell haulage route between two work sites, Glengad and Aughoose, we assumed it was more big machinery. However, it was 20 times louder than the usual Shell convoy, so we ran outside to look – but there was no traffic. I then thought it must be a thunderstorm and looked up at the sky, but everything was eerily quiet. The birds had stopped singing even. Our dog was going mad barking though,” Betty Schult said.
Westport resident, Lorella Errani, happened to be reading online about an earthquake that occurred earlier in the week near her mother’s home in Ravenna, Italy, when she heard a ‘deep rumbling noise’.
“Initially I thought it was a big digger passing the rural laneway where I live but then when I spoke to a neighbour and heard the descriptions on local radio, I realised it was the earthquake,” Ms Errani said.
Mid-West Radio’s switchboards were jammed from about 9am on Wednesday morning with calls from people who had experienced the tremors. They reported houses and beds shaking, and animals, including flocks of sheep, becoming very agitated.
Mrs Phil O’Hara of Aclare, in Co Sligo, said she found a chunk of her chimney on the ground after she heard what she initially thought was a rap of thunder. A fisherman, on Lough Conn, who was attaching an outboard engine to his boat said the lake was flat calm, ‘like a sheet of glass’ but then suddenly the waves started to rise up and down as if someone was rocking the boat.
When New Zealander Tania Olsen, who has lived in Murrisk for five years, heard the noise created by last Wednesday morning’s earthquake, she thought she was back on the other side of the world.
A native of Dunedin on the South Island, Ms Olsen (36) is well used to tremors, which are a frequent occurrence in New Zealand, which is located along the ‘ring of fire’. When the earthquake struck Mayo on Wednesday she was given a disconcerting reminder of home.
“When it happened I said to my partner Michael, ‘What was that?’, and he joked ‘It was an earthquake’. I said ‘Yeah, I think it is!’.
“I thought, this shouldn’t be happening. It was not what I expected to happen in Europe. This was more than a noise … it was the kind of sensation you feel when you are in a lift and it stops. When it happened, I felt like I was on the side of the planet,” she joked.
Growing up in New Zealand, Tania never experienced a full earthquake, but she has lived through  numerous tremors, and she feels the people of Mayo have nothing to worry about in the future. “This was nothing like the tremors we would regularly feel in New Zealand and I don’t think this is something thing we should be overly concerned about.
“I would be more concerned about driving down High Street than an earthquake in Mayo,” she said.

HAVE YOUR SAY email antonmcnulty@mayonews.ie with your comments

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