VILLAGERS are delighted and stunned after an entire beach that was washed away 33 years ago has reappeared – virtually overnight thanks to a freak tide.
The stunning beach near the Irish village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in Spring storms of 1984 after waves washed away all the sand.
With nothing more than rock pools left behind, almost all the villages’ hotels, guesthouses and cafes shut down.
But miraculously thanks to a freak tide, hundreds of thousands of tons of sand were dumped on the beach over ten days in April, re-creating a stunning 300m long beach.
And the picturesque stretch is still in place, with locals hoping it sticks around long enough for the beach to be given blue-flag status during next year’s inspection.
Sean Molloy, manager at Achill Tourism, said: “Before it disappeared, the beach had been there for as long as living memory, almost continuously, until 1984-85.
“During that time there was some big storms that really destroyed the beach and it was completely washed away and 1984 was the last time the beach was there.
“Then in April when we had that cold snap over Easter, the wind was coming in from the north.
“It was very constant and steady and it must have transported eroded material in from elsewhere.”
He said the bulk of the sand was deposited in just over a week, leaving locals delighted.
“It’s so nice for the villagers to have their beach back,” he said.
“It is an incredible example of the force and power of nature and how the coast can change in a matter of days.”
Alan Gielty, 48, the third generation to run the local Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant said the beach has brought with it an influx of tourists.
He said: “It disappeared back in the 80s after a very, very bad sea storm. The storms will decimate all the sand. We were just left with rocks.
“The sand used to come in a little in the Spring but never anywhere near the volume that has this last year.
“But now it’s back. It’s great. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of tons in the last couple of months.
“It’s amazing. We haven’t had a beach for a long, long time.
“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.
“Since people have seen the news of the beach on the news we have had plenty more visitors from the middle of the country.”
The beach was washed away in the 80s and severe storms in 2014 and 2015 battered the area, destroying the and direct access down onto the beach.
In April hundreds of thousands of tons were deposited to create the glorious beach still there now.
“The infrastructure isn’t there at the moment but if all goes well, hopefully Achill could have its sixth blue-flag beach in the near future,” Sean said.
Dr Ivan Haigh, associate professor in coastal oceanography at the University of Southampton said: “Sand along the coast is in a constant state of flux, moved by storms, waves and wind.
“It is also influenced by the available supply of sediment from stretches of coastline many 100 km’s away.
“The strength of storm and waves, change on decadal time-scales, and it is also possible that environmental conditions have altered providing the ideal conditions for a fresh build up of sand.
“It is also possible there has been a change in the supply of sand, much further down the coast.”