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The East Coast of Cork is falling into the sea

Coastal protection works costing €25 million to prevent coastal erosion in parts of East Cork were mothballed 20 years ago and the rate of land loss is accelerating.


There is coastal erosion from Youghal's Claycastle beach to Pilmore beach, the lack of groynes is leading to sand continuously blown off Youghal's Front Strand beach, with areas inaccessable due to increasing coastal erosion. Youghal town relies heavily on tourism and further erosion of its beaches could have a catastrophic effect on the Youghal economy. The Mayor of County Cork called for a study on coastal erosion from Youghal's Claycastle beach to Pilmore beach.

Council engineers said that 20 years ago consultants undertook a survey at Youghal's Front Strand and recommended five groynes be installed to stop the sand blowing away. The cost of the project in 2000 was €1.5 million.

Councillor Michael Hegarty said a survey was carried out around the same time into coastal erosion between Youghal and Whitegate. It recommended that extensive use of rock armour was needed and this was estimated at the time to cost in the region of €25 million. “

Since then we've seen vast areas of farmland disappear."

Roches Point

Another example is Roches's point lighthouse, near Cork Harbour, with its adjoining terrace of 11 coast guard cottages close to the lighthouse in the 1830's. The sea wall, built to protect the cottages, has been badly damaged by storms. Cork County

Cork country has a coastline covering 5,800 kilometres. In 1992, a needs study carried out by the National Coastal Erosion Committee of the County and City Engineer's Association showed that out of the total coastline of 5,800 kilometres some 1,500 kilometres are at risk and some 490 kilometres require immediate attention at an approximate cost of £125 million.


In 1996, severe erosion at Ballycotton, Co. Cork was discussed in the Dail. In the autumn of 1995 the retaining wall under the village had been breached and the area council engineer and other officials witnessed the ‘perilous’ situation. The area is exposed to long periods of easterly gales with the retaining wall further breached. "There were gaps of 35 feet and 18 feet in the wall which now offers no protection to the cliff behind it. The cliff face of clay is 15 feet behind the line of the wall and has no rock base. It was imperative that remedial works are carried out immediately to protect the roadway into Ballycotton with work done on the remainder of the retaining wall, which in places has been undermined, and in other places cracks have appeared."

In 1995, a coastal protection scheme was submitted to the relevant Department by Cork County Council, covering the coastline from Ballycotton to Knockadoon. The Minister of State at the Department of the Marine replied that with regard to the two locations:

"Cork County Council informed the Department that rock armouring costing £100,000 is required at Ballycotton and road protection costing some £150,000 is required at Ring Strand. However, fully costed, designed and justified proposals are still awaited from the council. I understand that these will be forwarded shortly. When Cork County Council's proposals are received they will be fully considered over the remaining years of the programme." Government Response

The Minister suggested that perhaps community employment schemes could be considered to provide temporary coastal relief works in Ballycotton. The overall East Cork coastal protection works were abandoned in the year 2000.

Dáil Éireann - Volume 461 - 20 February, 1996 Adjournment Debate. - County Cork Coastal Erosion:

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