Irish Beach Brought Back to Life Overnight

Dooagh Beech with its new sandy strand.

By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
June / July 2017

Sand has returned to a village beach on Achill Island for the first time in over 30 years after a surprise deposit from the Atlantic Ocean in April. Since storms washed away the sand in 1984, leaving only rocks and rock pools, the beach at the small town of Dooagh has been devoid of what was once a lifeline for residents, first as a source of soil fertilization and later as a draw for tourists, who are now returning.

“We have a beautiful little village as it is, but it is great to look out and see this beautiful beach instead of just rocks,” Alan Gielty, who owns a local restaurant, told the Guardian. “Since people have seen the news of the beach, we have had plenty more visitors from the middle of the country.”

Speaking to the Irish Times, Sean Molloy of Achill Tourism called the development “enormously significant,” recalling how the strand once supported four hotels and several guesthouses.

Prior to the construction of a pier in 1927, the beach was used as a curragh launch and seaweed was mixed with the sand to enrich the soil and fertilize crops. But this also isn’t the first time the beach has disappeared, according to Molloy, who notes a similar occurrence in the 1890s.

Dooagh Before the sand returned, March 2017.

Dooagh before the sand returned, March 2017.

Sand migration is part of the life cycle of coastal beaches, which regularly change with the tides, though usually not to such a dramatic degree. And even though this renewal saw thousands of tons of sand deposited over 300 meters, Molloy advises caution, telling CNN the beach is still likely in flux: “Because of the sand coming in, we don’t know how safe the beach is now because currents could be changed and it’ll take a little bit of time.”

Still, he’s hopeful, telling the Times that “Achill already has five blue-flag beaches, so we are hoping that in time it will be awarded a sixth.” ♦

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