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09 May 2017

Sands of time: Freak tide returns Irish beach after 33-years

A beach that had washed away 33 years ago by storms has reappeared off Ireland's west coast.

Nothing but bare rock and rock pools were left when the sands at Dooagh on County Mayo's Achill Island vanished during the winter of 1984.

But the sands of time have been reversed and the Atlantic has returned what it stole.

In context

Irish beach returns after 33 years


300-metre stretch of beach recreated

The storms of 1984 "completely took every last grain of sand off the beach," said Sean Molloy of Achill Tourism.

Last month around Easter, "in the space of about eight or 10 days, these very strong winds came from the north," he added.

A freak tide left hundreds of tonnes of sand around where the beach once existed and recreated a 300-metre stretch of sand.


Tourism gets boost thanks to beach's return

Achill Island has a population of less than 3,000 and its economy is primarily dependent on tourism.

An estimated 150,000 to 180,000 tourists visit Achill annually.

The beach's unexpected arrival has given the island a boost.

"Mostly all you see is waves and rocks, so it has been really lovely to see a big expanse of sand," said local restaurant owner Roisin Lavelle.

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Not safe

Not yet safe to head for swim in Achill

More tourists may not mean it's safe for people to head for a swim.

"Because of the sand coming in, we don't know how safe the beach is now because currents could be changed and it'll take a little bit of time," Molloy said.

For now, it's best to leave the swimming to the dolphins which frequent Dooagh Bay.

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