A Wexford man has seen the dramatic impact of coastal erosion through his life and now the sea is threatening to wash away his home.
The Irish sea has been eating into the eastern coast of Ireland for quite some time. In 1915, due to the effects of the sea on the south County Dublin coast, the railway line between Dun Laoghaire and Bray was moved half a mile inland at Shankill.
When the Dart line was constructed, CIÉ (Córas Iompair Éireann) engineers raised and drained the line at Killiney, in order to prevent the line flooding at high tides. Dun Laoghaire Corporation constructed reinforced concrete breakwaters and placed huge wire baskets of rocks, known as gabions, as buffers against the sea.
Further down the coast Joe Keating's house at Ballyconnigar, County Wexford, is in danger of falling into the sea in the coming years. Last April an outhouse at the edge of Joe’s property collapsed into the sea during a winter storm. His mother once ran a thriving guesthouse here but coastal erosion has seen the land swallowed by the power of the sea. Now the sea is only twenty feet from his home.
The county council has put erosion defences on the beach, in the form of boulders but Joe estimates that the erosion continues at a rate of seven feet per year,
It’s washing away. There’s only sand, there’s no marl along here, it’s all sand.
Joe remembers the sea being 200 yards away from the house. A race course was located a bit further up the coast, but today that is all gone, and the sea is uncomfortably close.
An Evening Extra report broadcast on 20 January 1988. The reporter is Vincent Wall.