In dramatic overnight news it emerged that part of Cork city was washed away in the recent floods. The area, composed exclusively of land on the north-eastern side of the city, apparently separated from the Irish landmass following relentless rain and high winds. An eye witness, Ted Buckley, said that he heard a violent shriek shortly before 3 am in the morning.
‘I looked out the window, herself was asleep, and instead of the neighbour’s gable wall all I could see was the wild ocean. It was frightening. We left the house immediately. Streams of people were running towards Collins Barracks. People said it was the end of the world and that there had been an earthquake but I never felt the ground shaking.’
Other Cork residents heard a similar sound but said that it was preceded by a strange keening in the earth – a sort of low pitched whine from deep underground. Residents of Lower Glanmire Road, added that a section of rock became dislodged near the entrance to Cork’s historic rail tunnel around midnight and that this may have been a direct predecessor of the enormous schism underway miles below ground. It was further noted that a tumultuous wall of water rushed towards the city shortly after the separation, but that this promptly vanished into an abyss located on or close to the rupture.
When normality – described by some as a mixture of shock and awe – returned, local residents were met by a sight that no one had ever thought possible: a section of Cork city was now positioned on a precipice as high and as sheer as the Cliffs of Moher. Far below the sea boiled with rage. No further collapses were reported.
In a statement, the Commander-in-Chief of Cork City Council, Mr Denis King, a one-time fishmonger, expressed relief that a section of Montenotte was lost in the catastrophe. ‘The residents of Montenotte are renowned for their entrepreneurial skills. They have talent in abundance. Wherever this poor misfortunate part of Cork now is, I am confident it has been adequately supplied with leaders of the highest calibre. They will naturally rise to the fore.’
Later, reflecting on the loss to the city, Mr King, who sold fish for many years, denied any foreknowledge of the dramatic overnight events. It was noted that only one week earlier Cork City Council had disposed of a major local authority housing area to a private conglomerate with extensive expertise in managing the expectations of disadvantaged people. Instead Mr King instanced this transaction as yet another example of his managerial prudence which he pointed out had once again saved the city from damaging financial losses.
He accepted however that the disaster – immediately assessed by insurers to fall within the category of an ‘Act of God’ – was a blow. He announced that a special mass would be celebrated for the missing area of Cork. Details of this would be published on the Council’s website which he emphasised was not damaged in the storm.
Mr King dismissed talk of a rescue operation. He pointed out that the Council had limited funds at its disposal and he furthermore explained that the breakaway section of Cork was now drifting into international waters – a fact that could not easily be ignored. He said ‘Cork had to accept the loss and do the best it could,’ adding, ‘We will turn this to our advantage too. For many years we had to travel to Crosshaven or Youghal to go for a sea swim. Whereas now we have the sea on our doorstep. The City Engineer will shortly ascertain the stability of the new coastline and we will proceed from there to make plans and engage with these new opportunities.’
He thanked everyone and asked that those who were now drifting far away should remember where they had come from.
‘William Ford left Cork in even more difficult circumstances that this. He never forgot his roots. His son Henry returned and opened his first car factory outside America here in our great city.’
He reminded people also to remain calm and await the report of the City Engineer and his assistant, the Assistant City Engineer. He added finally that property values might well rise on foot of the tragedy.
‘The houses lying along the fault line now have wonderful views out over the Celtic Sea. This was something that also needed to be taken into account.’
TO BE CONTINUED