Mini tornado leaves trail of destruction in rural Galway

Farmers and householders were counting the cost of a mini tornado which ripped through a rural community.

Mini tornado leaves trail of destruction in rural Galway

Residents whose houses were caught in the middle of the freak storm on Wednesday night say it was a miracle that nobody was injured in the incident.

The mini tornado caused most damage in Clonfert in east county Galway after it came in off the River Shannon around 6.30pm.

It quickly travelled up through a bog before hitting houses and farm buildings in Clonfert and spinning away towards south Co Roscommon where it faded out.

Eyewitnesses said yesterday that the storm lasted just two or three minutes but caused thousands of euro of damage in that time.

Around 700 houses lost electricity and ESB crews were busy yesterday restoring power to the last remaining houses, including some in Banagher in Co Offaly on the other side of the Shannon.

Considerable damage was also caused to the historic graveyard beside Clonfert Cathedral.

Farmer Brendan Coughlan from Clonfert, whose house was damaged when a tree fell on it, said he and his wife Brenda were just relieved that nobody was killed or injured.

“My 16-year old son Brendan and 8-year old son Jack were outside and Brendan had the presence of mind to jump on top of the younger lad. If he hadn’t they could have been badly hurt. The natural thing to do would be to run but there was so much flying around they would have been hit,” said Brendan.

Meanwhile, another family spoke of their relief of escaping unhurt after a tree crashed through the mobile home where they are living temporarily while their home is being extended.

Noel and Mary Kelly and their four children were having dinner at the time.

“At the time I had no idea the wind was as bad as it was and then the tree came down. We heard the awful bang and then the noise,” Noel said.

“The child was in the playpen right next to it. There were bits of the tree inside and you could see through the roof, he could have been killed.

“We just got everyone out as quick as we could. The mobile home is destroyed but it’s a miracle we weren’t killed,” he added.

Michael Silke, IFA regional president who lives nearby, said nothing like it had been seen in the area before and while thousands of euro worth of damage had been caused, local people were just relieved that nobody was hurt.

“It just knocked all before it and left a trail of devastation behind it. There were some animals killed along the route but it will take time to work out the scale of the damage. There are some trees down in Clonfert which are over 200 or 300 years old. It not only uprooted them but actually moved them on,” said Mr Silke.

Siobhan Ryan of Met Éireann said that mini tornados were almost impossible to predict. “The conditions were there ... and the mini tornado could have occurred anywhere in Ireland,” she said.

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