Monday 12 February 2024

The Connibeg Fourteen

Yesterday, we linked (Dun Briste 1393) to a sudden, lumpy loss of coast. When the storm abated, the survivors abseiled down the cliff and abandonned their farm forever.  Usually it is more insidious: depends on the local geology. It seems worse when more recent, and more countable, people are involved (Guildford Four, Birmingham Six). It is worse when more people are involved. A couple of weeks ago there was [another] report from RTE about the steady diminution of Wexford as storms sweep away the long sandy beaches for which the county is justifiably famous. This is similar coast-scape, same issues as The Blob was uncovering in Norfolk in December. In each case, a sandy beach being the storm-fronting face of sand-dunes and slumping sand+lumps cliffs. The Connibeg Fourteen are two little crescents of houses [14 below] on the seaward side of, the engagingly named, Bastardstown, a village between Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour:

You can track the sea's steady progress over the last 200 years by consulting the Geohive resource of Ordnance Survey Ireland recently rebranded as In 1995, OSI carried out the first re-survey of the whole state . . . by aeroplane.  The Connibeg cottages are present and correct then, so have given at least 30 years of service to their owners. Between 1829 and 1842, the UK Ordnance Survey carried out the world's first countrywide mapping project in Ireland. Geohive makes three chain + theodolite + triangulate databases available:

  • 1st survey at 6in to the mile = 1: 10,560 (1829-1842)
  • 2nd Survey at 25in to the mile = 1:2,534 (1863-1924)
  • Revised 6in to the mile = 1: 10,560 (1830s-1930s)

The geohive allows fairly easy flipping among the different surveys. Here's the state of playa at the time of the revised survey. It is, at least as far as the coast in concerned, very similar to the 25in:mile survey. It is possible to determine the survey dates for each sheet of the map but not from my sofa.  Let's call it 1880.

The sea is back a good bit and the land is forward. Note that the area of Bastardstown is 186 acres; 3 rods and 24 perches is extent. About 50 years earlier a) there's a hamlet of a half dozen dwellings down by the beach b) there's an addition 5 acres = 2 hectares of Bastardstown which is not yet allll wet. Like with our home place there have been some changes to the field boundaries when comparing these 3 maps but enough remains so that comparison is possible. I doubt if any of my readers will be bothered but, especially for those who live in Ireland, this is proof of research-tool principle which can be applied to a part of the country you know and love. The key point for the current analysis is that the orange line suggests that ~100m of this part of the South Wexford coast has been swept away over the last 200 years.

Correct me if I'm wrong but there is no national plan for addressing this problem. The road to the Connibeg Fourteen is on its 4th edition. And this iteration is really only possible because someone has armoured the cliff with ripp-rapp in front of the farm to the West of C.14 which allow the access road to jink Southwards on the very edge of the sea. The first cottage is now only 20m from the beach. Today in the 10th anniversary of the 2014 Darwinday Storm which caused damage.
Sleep through the next named Met Éireann storm? Don't do this at home, kids!

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