The shifting sands of Ireland's Achill Island

Its been a good year for the reappearance of beaches on Achill Island (Irish: Acaill, Oileán Acla). It is an island off the coast of County Mayo (Irish: Contae Mhaigh Eo) in the West of Ireland. Earlier this year, after an absence of 33 years, sand returned to a beach near Dooagh. The sand had been washed away during storms in 1984, and then this year high tides deposited the sand back. 

This was a bonus for the local tourism industry with the creation of this sandy beach in an already beautiful area. Now, after an absence of 12 years, the sea has returned the sand to another beach on Ashleam Bay on the southern coast of the island. Achill Island juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and is exposed to some strong southwesterly winds. Both beaches are thought to have originally lost their sand due to exceptionally high tides and the power of the waves.

It is believed a combination of high tides and strong winds, this time from the north, lifted and washed the sand ashore once more. The results are pleasing, however nobody on the island is taking anything for granted. After all, what nature gives it can take back again. So its a question of enjoying it while you can because who can predict with certainty how long the new beaches will last.

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