Men survive after being swamped by monster wave on Bantry Bay

Now you see me, now you don’t — what photographer Adrian Cronin witnessed on the battered shores of Bantry Bay was like a scene from tsunami drama The Impossible, a scene replicated around a storm-clobbered coast.

Indeed, it seemed impossible that council worker Jimmy Griffin and owner of Fastnet Mussels John Murphy would survive the onslaught of water that washed over them yesterday as they stood by the sea out on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in West Cork.

“I was up the road with the town engineer, Ruth O’Brien, thinking ‘That’s a stupid place to stand’ when the wave came from nowhere. I thought ‘That’s it, they’ve been swept out to sea’,” Adrian said.

In fact, the two men suffered no more than a few bruises after being swept up and dumped behind a nearby ditch by the giant wave. Their experience, caught on camera, was just one of the hundreds of dramas played out at coastal resorts around the country after another 24 hours of hurricane winds, high tides, and torrential rain. Parts of Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Galway, Mayo, and Waterford took a particularly harsh pounding, with hundreds of homes at risk of flooding and large sections of road either washed away or closed. In the popular resort of Youghal, Co Cork, a €220,000 boardwalk was destroyed.

Cities and towns were also under siege as rivers burst banks early yesterday, although flooding was receding last night.

All over the country, local authorities were assessing the cost of the damage which is expected to run to hundreds of millions of euro.

The ESB and Eircom were also counting the cost of repairs, with 11,000 faults reported to Eircom and 1,500 houses still without electricity last night.

Minister for Public Works Brian Hayes said he believed the Government will have to stump up extra funds to deal with the scale of the storm. For some, there was even cause to celebrate, such as the schoolchildren on Cape Clear where an out-of-action ferry meant they could not reach the mainland, bringing an unexpected extension to the Christmas holidays. However, perhaps the biggest reason to celebrate is the word from Met Éireann that the worst of the weather has come and gone.

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