Galway city left licking wounds following superstorm

Back you go — the high tides are fed into the drains at Salthill. Photo: Paul Malone

Back you go — the high tides are fed into the drains at Salthill. Photo: Paul Malone

A popular Salthill walkway completely disappeared, car parks submerged in water, and businesses left counting the cost of the damage as the sea demonstrated its power during last week’s storm.

Powered by a combination of high spring tides and strong winds, the sea pummelled the Galway coastline from last Thursday night, increasing in strength by 4am on Friday and leaving its mark on Salthill and in flood prone areas of the city centre.

One of the worst affected areas is the walkway between Blackrock and Gentian Hill, that leads along the back of the golf course as far as the driving range, which been ruined. The unrelenting sea waves hit the walkway, made up of mostly tarmac and gravel, lifting it completely, leaving only stones and debris behind. Galway City Council has confirmed that the walkway is no longer safe and that remediation works will have to be carried out.

Under attack by the unrelenting force of sea, winds, and rocks, the Salthill Promenade was also damanged, concrete lifted in some areas while in other parts it subsided. These areas have been cordoned off and are currently being assessed. Public car parks in Salthill were turned into swimming pools with a number of cars in Toft Park and another across from Baily Point apartments being submerged, blown into other vehicles, and written off. The Waterfront Hotel car park was completely submerged by up to two feet of water and around 17 cars are understood to have been written off as a result. The actual swimming pool at Leisureland received an oversupply of water with gym under two and half feet of sea water, the pool area contaminated, and the power supply severely affected.

Severe flooding throughout Salthill

Severe flooding also occurred at the Salthill Hotel, Salthill Garda Station, Western House, Coco Café, Salthill Amusements, Lonergans, Quinns Bon Bon, Moca Beans, as well as the Circle of Life Commemorative Garden, which is under construction at Quincentennial Park and is the project of Denis and Martina Goggin of the Strange Boat Donor Foundation. Although Mutton Island itself withstood the storm some of the railing along the causeway was torn away. There was also flooding in lower Salthill, at the junction near the Warwick Hotel due to water pushing through from the sea through Toft Park and the Galway Business School, resulting businesses such as Morton’s foodstore being flooded. An apartment at Pointe Boise was also evacuated on Friday due to safety concerns. At Silverstrand boulders were blown up onto the promenade and roadway. The walled boundary between Silverstrand and Lough Rusheen partially collapsed and the railings/claddings along the ramp leading to the beach were removed. Subjected to continued erosion, the storm resulted in yet another chunk of the cliff at Silverstrand being lost.

Council staff have been out in force at all times even before superstorm Christine, hit dealing with flooding issues which occured during the Christmas period. The council implemented rolling road closures to alleviate the dangers associated with flooding and overtopping as seawater washed over areas such as Grattan Road and the Promenade leaving stones and debris behind. As of yesterday the clean-up of much of the debris on the roadways in Salthill was nearing completion.

Spanish Parade businesses face cost of flooding

The storm also left its mark in other areas of the city with businesses in the Spanish Parade including Claddagh and Celtic Jewellery, Kumar, Cobwebs, Cúpan Tae being flooded. Many business owners are now left facing the cost of repairs themselves due to difficulties in securing insurance in flood prone areas. It is estimated that the cost could run into thousands of euro for businesses because of the loss of earnings as well as the added cost of replacing and repairing stock, equipment, fixtures and fittings, and labour.

Many of the business owners in the area, including city councillor and proprietor of Claddagh and Celtic Jewellery Niall McNelis, are calling for the council to provide permanent flood defences such as a barrier or wall in the Fishmarket Quay area which is continuallly plagued by floods. Council spokesperson Gary McMahon said that although preventative measures will certainly be investigated there are many issues to consider including engineering problems and preserving the heritage site.

Council crews work on clearing debris at Ballyloughane Beach

Ballyloughane Beach also suffered a battering from the storms. According to city councillor Terry O’Flaherty, the area was left in a complete mess with “huge mountains of seaweed strewn everywhere”, fields flooded, and piles of stones thrown from the beach onto the green areas, footpaths, and the roadway. The toilets were also immersed in water, the strong winds moved the lifeguard hut from its position, refuse bins were thrown about, and a large amount of debris was washed up onto the entire area.

Cllr O’Flaherty said the devastation, the likes of which have not been seen by locals since 1995, will “take sometime to clean up” and has called for funding to be provided. Galway City Council confirmed that crews are in the process of removing the debris in the area.

There were still some incidents of spot flooding on Monday morning following severe weather conditions overnight. A combination of high spring tide and storm surges from the sea prompted fears of overtopping during morning rush hour, at around 8.30am on Monday in the Salthill area, however roads were opened again by 11am. One of the issues faced by the council crews now is clearing the drains and gullies that have been clogged up by sand, stones, and seaweed brought up onto the roads by the seawater.

Reports are currently being prepared for Galway City Council and the Department of the Environment in relation to the extent of the damage and the remediation works needed.


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