An entire beach that was washed away 33 years ago has reappeared – virtually overnight – thanks to a freak tide.
The beach near the Irish village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in spring storms of 1984 after waves washed away all the sand.
But a freak tide has meant hundreds of thousands of tonnes sand were dumped on the beach over 10 days in April, restoring the 300m long beach to its former glory.
Overjoyed locals are now hoping it’s here to stay so the beach can obtain Blue Flag status next year.
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.
He added: “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 locals are delighted at the return of their beach and the influx of tourists it has brought with it.
They include Alan Gielty, 48, the third generation to run the local Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant.
He said: “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 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.”
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 kms 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.”