Tuesday, 29 December 2015

‘Stay back, stay high, and stay dry,’
as Storm Frank hits the Irish coasts

Waiting for Storm Frank to hit the coast at Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

“Stay back, stay high, and stay dry,” is the advice weather forecasters and the Coast Guard are giving as Storm Frank, the latest winter storm hits the coasts of Ireland this evening.

Everyone is being advised to show extreme caution while walking on exposed seafronts and piers, with the expectation of high tides and forceful weather over the next few days. High tides are expected offshore and inland along with winds of up to 80 kph or higher in coastal areas, bringing exceptionally high waves on western and southern coasts and storm warnings for all vessels.

As the high tide arrived in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, this afternoon, two of us crossed the railway line and the rocky coastal defences for a walk along the shoreline.

Two years ago [7 January 2014], I was soaked up to my knees in the same place as another storm blew in with high waves and high winds along the east coast. It was relatively calm early this afternoon, and while the waves were high they seemed to lose their ferocity as they reached the pebbly and rocky shore, and never quite reached the rocks and boulders that protect the Dublin-Wexford railway line.

Flooded lands in Kilcoole this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

However, the farmland behind the railway line is flooded, and in the face of extensive television news reports of flooding in the west and along the Shannon Basin, it is important to note that farmers and residents are suffering throughout Ireland this winter.

From Kilcoole, we drove north, back through Killincarrig and Greystones to Bray, for another walk along the beach. In Bray, Storm Frank seemed to be gathering strength, and the sound of the waves beating against the shore sounded like a train trundling along, parallel to the rail line behind me.

Undeterred, posters along the promenade are advertising the Bray New Year’s Day Sea Swim at 12 noon on Friday [1 January 2016]. Last year’s Sea Swim raised €8,684 for Bray Stroke Club, Caring for Carers, Bray Poor Relief Fund, the Bray Branch of Enable Ireland, and Bray Lions’ Club Senior Citizens’ Holiday.

This annual event was set up 32 years ago to have some festive fun and to raise funds for local charities. In the years since, the Bray Se Swim has raised €313,488 for a long list of worthy local causes. Many swimmers turn out in fancy dress, making this a fun, colourful event.

The charities chosen for Friday’s swim are: Marino Community Special School, Lincara Daycare Centre, Open Door Daycare Centre, and Bray Lions’ Carers’ Fund.

We retreated to Carpe Diem on Albert Avenue for a late lunch, including a glass of Ibisco and double espressos.

As we left, darkness was closing in on the seafront. It could be a storm night tonight.

Waves beat against the rocks as darkness closes in on Bray this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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