People are being warned to stay away from sand cliff areas on beaches which are “inherently unstable”.
Kerry County Council engineer Eamon Scanlan, speaking in the wake of the Maharees tragedy, said people should be aware dunes were a “mobile land form”.
He said large amounts of sand can move quickly and very easily, like an avalanche in snow, and can be extremely difficult to stop.
Mr Scanlan, a senior executive engineer with responsibility for coast and marine, said problems occur when the marram grass covering — which provides a root structure that holds a sand dune together — is removed.
Kerry had a lot of exposed sand faces where the grass had disappeared, caused by human, animal, wind and wave activity, he said.
The council has carried out repair work in the area of the Back Beach, in the Maharees, where Tuesday’s accident occurred.
Meanwhile, local man Aidan O’Connor related how he ran to the Back Beach, on Tuesday afternoon, after a girl came and told him someone was in trouble. He ran down to help and saw victim Niamh McCarthy’s friends frantically digging around a hole. He could see some of them were getting tired.
“I was fresh and I jumped in, digging as well. I dug as fast as I possibly could until I couldn’t do it any more,” Mr O’Connor said.
“I reckon the hole was about six feet deep and it kept caving in,” he said. It took at least half an hour before they recovered the young student, he said.
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