The perfect storm – and then the clean-up

By George Karbus

Shelley Marsden

A STUNNING photograph of waves battering the promenade of Lahinch, Co Clare is emblematic of the dramatic nature of the storms that have battered Ireland more than any other.

Taken last Thursday evening by George Karbus, a Czech photographer living in Ireland, the image (above) – which looks more like something from a Hollywood adventure movie than a real scene – is sure to become a classic image of Ireland’s worst weather in years.

Michelle Riordan, a friend of the photographer, shared his shot on Facebook saying: “We were pummelled on Thursday night by the biggest angriest swell on a high tide that left my whole area wrecked.

“Here’s a photo by my friend George Karbus of the action. I didn’t see the storm but seeing the damage, this photo makes sense.”

A certain Andrew Jolly commented: “That’s like the stuff you see on the news and say to yourself, at least it doesn’t happen in Ireland… scary…”

The acclaimed Czech-born photographer, who lives in Lahinch said the storm he captured wasn’t even as powerful as the one that followed in the early hours of the next morning.

“The big storm was at 5 or 6 in the morning so nobody was up to get (photograph) it,” he said. “The waves in the picture were last night, when conditions were a little smaller.”

Meanwhile, a new Father Ted sign that has gone up in the storm-battered town in recent days shows that despite experiencing a tough time of it, Lahinch’s resident can still have a laugh.

The town in County Clare has seen some of the worst of the terrible weather across Ireland, with high waves causing damage to several buildings as they crashed in off the Atlantic, and some locals having to flee their homes.

The famous promenade was one of the worst areas affected, with debris strewn across it and damage caused to the walkways found right in front of the sea front. It remains closed to the public, but the Father Ted sign that has been placed in one of the worst sections, where the road has been torn up, has made people smile, at least.

But Father Ted has also taken a hit, with the shipwreck which features in the opening credits of the show becoming the latest victim of the storm.

The iconic Plassey cargo ship, which has been perched on the rocks on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the three Aran Islands, was nearly turned around.

“There’s no doubt she was moved — the bow was twisted a lot in the storm”, said Inis Oirr Co-Op Chairman, Paddy Crowe.

Of course, it’s not just Lahinch that has had a nightmare few weeks. Several parts of Ireland continue to be ravaged by stormy weather, with recent warnings of severe coastal flooding and gales of up to 120kph (74mph).

In the midst of it all, last Monday marked the 175th anniversary of Ireland’s worst storm in 500 years, dubbed “night of the big wind”, a huge hurricane that killed several hundred people.

Last Thursday, one woman had a lucky escape when her car was washed into the sea at Ballylongford in Co Kerry. As her car filled up with water, she rang her brother who called the coast guard. She was found close to shore – she had been able to climb out of the submerged car and been washed ashore.

Last Friday afternoon, a car had to be pulled from Creggan Harbour in Co Galway after it was swept off the pier. Gale force winds threw a total of four cars into the water in the area.

For the full article and more dramatic images of the stormy weather, see this week’s Irish World newspaper (issue 11 Jan 2013), in shops now.


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