Mighty Atlantic Returns Irish Beach It Stole 33 Years Ago

Open Jaw

Dooagh Beach, before and after.

A beach washed away by storms more than 30 years ago has reappeared on an island off the west coast of Ireland.

The sands at Dooagh on County Mayo's Achill Island vanished in the winter of 1984, leaving nothing but bare rock and rock pools. But over the course of a few days in April the Atlantic returned what it had taken, depositing thousands of tons of sand and creating a brand new 300-metre golden strand.

The storms of 1984 "completely took every last grain of sand off the beach," Sean Molloy of Achill Tourism told CNN. 

But last month, "in the space of about eight or 10 days, these very strong winds came from the north," he explained. "Apparently what that does is, it blows the surface water back, because this is a south-facing beach. The sea then takes the sands underneath and brings the sands up. That's what I've been told."

Achill is Ireland's largest island and its rugged topography of rolling bogland, dramatic cliffs and pristine -- if windswept -- beaches have inspired writers including Graham Greene and Heinrich Boll. With a population of fewer than 3,000, the main economy is tourism and the arrival of the new beach has given things an unexpected boost. 

Molloy estimates that Achill receives around 150,000 to 180,000 visitors a year, but the sunshine and the new beach have been bringing in the crowds. This past weekend "looked like a bank holiday weekend, so many people came."

"A lot of people come to Achill to look at the power of nature because you see the cliffs and the boglands and the beaches and mountains," says Molloy. "This is just one very vivid example of the power of nature."

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