South Kerry takes the brunt of storm-force winds

More than 20,000 homes and businesses were left without power across Kerry yesterday as Storm Ophelia wreaked havoc from the early hours.

South Kerry takes the brunt of storm-force winds

The South Kerry coast took the brunt of the storm-force winds, which caused extensive flooding and left many roads impassable.

Thousands of homes from Rathmore in the foothills of the Paps on the Cork border to Glencar valley hidden in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks were left without power.

By late afternoon, the ESB had estimated that almost 16,000 customers were without electricity in South Kerry, with another 5,000 in North Kerry needing repairs.

Tourists huddled in hotels as the storm raged, with towns and villages across the county deserted.

Slates came off St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney and dozens of tress fell in the Killarney National Park which had closed to the public.

The storm began gathering in intermittent gusts at 7am, building to a crescendo from shortly after noon.

Trees came down everywhere — Kenmare, Kilgarvan, Killarney, Beaufort, and Killorglin.

“Trees are down everywhere. There is no place that hasn’t been affected,” said Killarney Sergeant Dermot O’Connell.

“The Ross Road was completely blocked, there was no way an ambulance could get through to Kilgarvan, the N22 main road to near Kilcummin had a tree across one half.”

While there were no reports of fatalities, there were a number of near misses.

Farm manager Seán Moriarty had a narrow escape when a tree came down in front of his tractor shortly after 2pm in Fossa, outside Killarney. That area along N72 between Killarney and Killorglin was badly hit and tree strewn, with herds of frightened deer emerging from the woodland onto the main road.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney’s tallest building, saw slates and lights fly off — but luckily nobody was nearby.

Further along, the Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen road was impassable with flooding and warnings went out. Rubbish collections had been suspended, town parks were closed, and non-emergency medical appointments cancelled.

Golf courses and hardware stores, along with banks and credit unions, also closed their doors. Attractions like the Tralee Wetlands also shut. And in a great irony, the monthly meeting of Kerry County Council where wind energy was the main topic was put off.

Unprecedently, several burials and requiem masses from Killarney to Listry to Barraduff were put back.

Shops, factories, and financial institutions joined the great shut down.

Liebherr Ireland, Kerry’s biggest private sector employer, told its 1,000 strong workforce not to come in yesterday.

The streets of Killarney were deserted — the town is among the busiest in the southwest — and has thousands of visitors in its hotels and guesthouses.

Killarney hotelier Tom Randles, chairman of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, said guests huddled by the firesides, heeding the advice to stay indoors.

The main concern for Killarney’s huge hotel industry was generators with many of the smaller and the older hotels without them. Power was out in much of the town from early morning.

“The big worry from a hotel point of view is the danger of darkness. When the power is out, lifts don’t work, computers are down,” Mr Randles said.

Just what the total bill will be is too early to tell.

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