Cars parked on a popular Kerry beach caused havoc over the weekend and sparked a debate on whether cars should ever be allowed on beaches.
Beachgoers flocked to Inch beach during the heatwave to enjoy the sun and cool off in the sea but what should have been a carefree day out turned into a water-soaked nightmare for more than one driver.
By Saturday afternoon, hundreds of cars had parked up on the beach itself which they are permitted to do.
With the tide out, the cars parked further and further out on the sand, such was the number of vehicles trying to park on the sand.
As the tide came back in, most drivers became aware and began to come and move their cars but there were several cars still parked when the waves began to lap at the wheels.
Two SUVs, including a brand new 222 car, were left sitting as the water came further and further in.
Morning - Traffic chaos at Inch Beach this weekend more than a few cars got wet when parked on the beach and hit with a high tide - reports of traffic backed up for hours in and around the blue flag beach. @kerrytodayrk pic.twitter.com/QF2WenemIT— Jerry O'Sullivan (@jerosullivanRK) August 15, 2022
The driver of one was soon seen running down the beach to his car but found it impossible to reverse back as the car was stuck deep in the sand and water.
A large group of people came to help the distressed driver and after a great deal of pushing and lifting, they were eventually able to free the car. The car did not appear to have suffered any damage.
The other car, however, did not fare as well. With the driver still not located, a good samaritan tied a rope from the stranded vehicle to their own and attempted to tow it.
The deepening water and sand made it a difficult task and soon the second vehicle was also in difficulty. A third car, another four-wheel drive, arrived and tied a rope to the second car.
Amid all this, the woman who owned the car appeared and was visibly shaken to see her car with water up around the bottom of the doors.
After a great deal of work from the two assisting cars, the woman's SUV was dragged out of the water. It appeared as though some water had gotten in but it was unclear how much damage was caused.
Countless other cars found themselves in trouble elsewhere on the beach as tyres got stuck in the soft sand.
Stranded cars were not the only vehicular issue to cause stress during the sweltering weekend as the volume of cars driving to and from the beach led to traffic chaos.
Despite best efforts and some temporary redirection of some traffic, families found themselves stuck in the roasting sun as the long queue of cars slowly inched along the road.
The problems arising from cars at the Blue Flag beach during the heatwave has prompted a debate over whether cars should ever be allowed to park on the sand.
Some people have suggested Inch beach should lose it's Blue Flag status until the problem is addressed while others have shared concern over the safety of having cars on a beach where many young children are running and playing.
Kerry County Council said it was "a particularly busy weekend not least because of the warm weather conditions" and it had two wardens and two enforcement officers on duty at Inch Beach over the weekend.
"The Council continues to work to locate suitable additional temporary parking at this location. In the longer term, the Council is in receipt of €50,000 under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) which is being used to develop an Infrastructural Development Plan for Inch Beach."
The council said the brief is currently being prepared in this regard and will deal with the following matters:
- Mobility, Traffic Management and Parking Strategy
- Pedestrian Access and Accessibility for All
- Facilities and Public Realm