Washed away Irish beach reappears after 33 years, again

Washed away Irish beach reappears after 33 years, again

A beach in the village of Dooagh on Achill Island, northwestern Ireland that vanished during a violent spring storm in 1984 has reappeared during a freak tide in April 2017 after hundreds of thousands of tons of sand were deposited on the shore, re-creating once glorious, 300-metre (984-foot) long beach. This is the second time in 130 years that this beach disappeared and reappeared within ~30 years.

The last time this beach vanished was in 1984 after violent spring storm hit Achill Island, causing huge waves and washing away all the sand.

"Then in April when we had that cold snap over Easter, the wind was coming in from the north. It was very constant and steady and it must have transported eroded material in from elsewhere," Sean Molloy, manager at Achill Tourism told the Irish Mirror, adding that the bulk of the sand was deposited in just over a week.

The beach used to be integral to the population of Achill and during the 1845 famine, families moved nearby to live off the fish and rich soils. Some 45 years later, in the 1890s, Dooagh's beach vanished and returned within 3 decades, in 1927. 

It was there until 1984, supporting many nearby hotels, guesthouses, and cafes. After it disappeared again, all of them were forced to shut down.

The following video, courtesy of Emma Gill Property Partners, from March 2017 shows what the beach looked like before the sands arrived.

"Sand along the coast is in a constant state of flux, moved by storms, waves and wind," Dr. Ivan Haigh, associate professor in coastal oceanography at the University of Southampton said. "It is also influenced by the available supply of sediment from stretches of coastline many 100 km's away."

"The strength of storm and waves, change on decadal time-scales, and it is also possible that environmental conditions have altered providing the ideal conditions for a fresh build up of sand. It is also possible there has been a change in the supply of sand, much further down the coast," Haigh concluded.

Featured image credit: Achill Tourism

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