Ballymoney North Beach has, for as long as anyone can remember, been one of the safest, sandiest beaches on the east coast of Ireland. Visited by walkers and swimmers “forever”, it is one of the best known beaches in North County Wexford. Alas, the last few months of 2022 and early 2023 has seen a monumental change. Essentially, the beach is disappearing. Is this coastal erosion, the impact of climate change, rising sea levels, changing currents or just a phenomenon which occurs every number of decades? Locals don’t think so, regular visitors don’t think so and I don’t think so. We only have to look to the beaches to the North and South of us. Courtown beach is gone, washed away, replaced by rock armour. North of Courtown, towards Dodd’s Rocks, trees are being washed into the sea, torn away from the woods, the rock armour has been breached, the dunes and headlands are disappearing. To the north of Ballymoney, Saleen, Clones, Kilmichael, and Kilpatrick are essentially being washed away. Valiant efforts have been made and are currently ongoing, with rock armour currently being placed in Kilpatrick. But the sea is winning, the land is losing, and erosion is happening. So, what then for Ballymoney?

Ballymoney beaches had been reasonably protected from erosion, presumably because of their orientation towards the battling seas. In fact, accretion has been a factor on the South Beach for over the last forty or fifty years, with vegetation growing on the north side of the stream. But it seems something has changed. Rocks, never before seen, are now fully exposed at the entrance to the north beach, sand has disappeared and the wall approaching the north beach, built over two hundred years ago, is being undermined. Will it collapse? A strong storm from the wrong direction and it could! So, is it climate change? Is it coastal erosion? Is it rising sea levels? Will the beach recover? Will we be swimming on a nice, safe, sandy North Beach next Summer? Will there be a beach?

Time will tell.

January 2023.