Thousands left without power as storms hit nation

Thousands have been left without power, roads have been ripped up and isolated homes have been cut off from the mainland after storms ravaged the country.

As severe winds reached 120km/h in some parts, 5,000 houses lost electricity and around 11,000 faults were reported to Eircom.

Local authorities spent the day calculating how much essential clean-up operations will cost, while the worst-hit areas in the west pledged to rebuild.

Loop Head peninsula in Co Clare was battered with high swells, with parts of the sea wall at Kilbaha being completely destroyed.

Flooding at Kilcredaun left some families cut-off from the mainland.

Further north in the county, snarling waves along the coastal town of Lahinch reached building height, while extensive damage was caused to the promenade.

Clare county manager Tom Coughlan pledged not just to repair the damage caused, but to rebuild with better facilities.

“We envisage such a development must be fit for purpose in terms of its capacity to deal with weather conditions such as those experienced in recent days while at the same time, serving the needs of the local community and visitors to the town.”

Nearby Doolin was also hit, and as local Coast Guard volunteers tried to fight the devastation, their own stores at Doolin Harbour were washed out.

In Howth, Co Dublin, the Coast Guard revealed two people were washed off their feet on parts of a pier while walking as waves were breaking over it.

Daredevil surfers flocked to Mullaghmore Head in Co Sligo, where waves as high as 11.8 metres were reported.

The Marine Institute recorded roaring waves of nearly 12m on its M6 buoy on the Porcupine Bank off the north-west coast. Waves of the same height were also recorded at Waverider buoy off Belmullet, Co Mayo.

High tides also battered the coasts of Galway, Cork and Waterford, but despite a landslide at Plunkett Train Station in Waterford last week, normal service resumed yesterday.

Fota Wildlife Park in Co Cork, kept its gates closed, while high tide at Salthill, Co Galway, flooded the promenade.

The Road Safety Authority issued a warning of hazardous driving conditions, with the threat of strong cross winds, fallen trees and electrical wires.

It warned that continued high Atlantic waves, passing heavy showers and incoming thunderstorms would cause treacherous conditions and advised motorists to take extra care on the roads, where aquaplaning could cause them to lose control of their vehicle.

The authority also urged drivers to steer clear of flooded roads, warning those that appear shallow could be much deeper.

Meanwhile, ESB Networks pledged to have electricity restored to the almost 5,000 homes that had lost power by teatime.

A spokeswoman said homes were worst hit in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ennis, Co Clare, Killarney, Co Kerry, Bandon, Co Cork, while some faults were reported in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

Eircom listed Galway, Cork, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford as the worst-affected areas for telecoms faults.

Elsewhere, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, which runs 72 of the country’s lighthouses, said all its services and navigation aides were functioning normally despite some water damage to some buildings and outhouses. A wall around a lighthouse on Inis Oirr on the Aran islands was knocked over by waves, while an old disused building was flooded.

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