A group of residents of a terrace of coast guard cottages have appealed to Cork County Council to repair storm damage to the sea wall that protects the cottages and the property around them.

The cottages were built almost 200 years ago in the shadow of Roche's Point lighthouse, at the mouth of Cork Harbour, one of the most exposed parts of the country.

There has been a lighthouse at Roche's Point since 4 June 1817 to warn shipping and local boatmen of navigational hazards as they approached Cork Harbour.

Separately, a terrace of 11 coast guard cottages was built to the north-east of the lighthouse in the early 1830s.

But a sea wall, built to protect the cottages, has been badly damaged by storms and by the power of the sea.

The sea wall has been damaged by waves over the years and residents fear it could collapse

Frances Gallagher's grandparents bought the house she lives in when the cottages first went on public sale, after 'The Emergency', at the end of the 1940s.

She says she is proud to be the third generation of her family to live there.

But Frances has concerns about the sea wall, which was built to protect the crescent of 11 terraced cottages and the gardens that surround them.

"The sea wall is an impressive structure; it's solidly built, almost 200 years ago," Frances told RTÉ News.

"It has kept the sea from our gardens most of the time. There have been a couple of breaches, which have been repaired.

"When the wall breaches in a storm, it exposes the garden soil and the sand behind it to the full force of quite impressive waves, and they can suck the topsoil out of the broken wall and onto the beach."

Frances Gallagher

Frances and her neighbours are concerned that cracks in the plinth of the wall will be further exposed by this winter's storms.

She said: "When it fails it's a big deal and it's very expensive and difficult to repair, and dangerous too, because these structures, when they become unstable, it's five-or-so metres of heavy stone wall that could come down on anybody on the beach, or whatever.

"We are worried that it might fail in a violent storm. We can see erosion and damage to the wall from the last few storms.

"We are worried for ourselves and our properties, of course, but we're also worried for the greater public. We just don't want it to fail on our watch, basically."

Sam O'Brien and his wife Patsy have had a house at Coastguard Cottages since the 1950s.

They are also concerned that the wall may be breached if it is not repaired soon.

"The problem is not if it's going to be breached, it's going to be breached because of the severity of the storms," Sam said.

Sam and Patsy O'Brien

"It would be a lot better if it was prevented, rather than wait for it to happen, because it will happen.

"If the wall goes, then the gardens will go, because the gardens will be sucked out through any hole."

Liam Quaide is a Green Party Councillor for Midleton and his electoral area covers Roche's Point and he supports the residents' calls.

"We are calling on Cork County Council to repair and increase the size of the concrete plinth, to carry out repairs to the wall itself, and to address the public road drainage issue," Cllr Quaide said.

Cllr Liam Quaide says there is a danger the wall could collapse

"These works will help to bolster the wall as a weather defence into the long term, as the impact of climate change intensifies.

"In the absence of those works taking place, there's a danger that the wall will be undermined and that it could, over time, collapse."

Cork County Council has said that its engineers will examine the damage to the sea wall and will assess what remedial work needs to be done.

In a statement, the council said: "Cork County Council's Coastal and Flood Projects section will inspect this site and assess if there is potential for Office of Public Works funding under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation and Coastal Protection Scheme.

"The Council understands that applications under this scheme are assessed by the OPW, having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the proposal, including cost benefit criteria."