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The Auld Sog

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN ­ Gale-force winds and record-breaking rainfall deluged the south and east of Ireland this week, leading to rivers jumping their banks, homes and business being flooded and severe disruption of road, rail, ferry and air services.

Emergency plans were put into operation in Dublin and Kildare as the bad weather caused millions of pounds worth of damage to property and vast tracts of farmland were submerged.

Flash flooding and fallen trees and telephone poles left main routes impassable and up to 7,000 homes were without electricity.

In some areas of the Midlands and east, a record-breaking four inches of rain fell in 18 hours between Sunday and Monday.

A 68-year-old woman died after she was hit by a farmyard gate in high winds near Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, and a 66-year-old man drowned when he was swept into a river near Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

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Travelers were particularly badly hit by the weather. The only part of the nation’s rail network to operate normally on Monday was the Dublin-to-Belfast line.

"In my 30 years in the rail services it is unprecedented," said Ray Kelly, marketing manager with Iarnrod Eireann, Ireland’s railroad authority.

Trains between Dublin and Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Westport were all cancelled on Monday. Skeleton services returned on Tuesday.

Ferry services between Ireland and the UK were severely disrupted as well.

Stena cancelled its Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead fast ferry and the conventional Dublin-Holyhead ferry was running seven hours late. Stena’s Fishguard-Rosslare ferry left Wales on time but was unable to dock in Rosslare on Monday and returned to Fishguard.

Irish Ferries also cancelled its fast ferry between Holyhead and Dublin. The conventional ferry made it into Dublin, but Monday’s round-trip was cancelled.

The Pembroke-Rosslare ferry had to shelter off County Waterford on Monday before heading back to Wales without docking.

Those flying in and out of Dublin Airport faced delays of up to two hours with some flights being cancelled due to high winds. An Aer Rianta spokesman said transAtlantic flights were worst hit by delays and diversions. Shannon and Cork Airports were virtually unaffected.

On the roads it was no better and the Automobile Association advised people, "If you don’t have to go anywhere, please don’t."

There was five feet of water on the M1 Belfast road and floods hit sections of other key routes, including the N1, N4, N11, N7 and N2.

Many businesses came to a standstill as employees failed to turn up for work. The Small Firms Association said over 50,000 working days would be lost.

Kildare and Dublin — particularly the north and west of the city — were badly affected and the Poddle, Tolka and Dodder rivers burst their banks in some suburbs.

High tides and gale-force east winds added to the misery in coastal towns like Arklow, Wicklow and Bray.

Towns on rivers like Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Mallow and Fermoy, Co. Cork, Waterford, and Kilkenny were all badly affected. In Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, residents said it was the worst flooding since 1946.

Hayden’s Park in Lucan is one of several areas of County Dublin that took the brunt of a freak autumn storm that deluged much of Ireland. . . .

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