Cork County Council has issued a warning to people to keep away from a sinkhole that appeared on the L-8912-0 road to the south of the village of Allihies on the Beara Peninsula in the west of the county over the weekend. The sinkhole is about six metres in diameter, and it is unclear if it is likely to grow further, which has prompted the council to close the road, which is described by locals as 'quite busy'.
Sinkhole on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork that opened up this weekend. Teddy Kelly/Irish Independent.
Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace.
The approximate location of the October 2019 Beara Peninsula sinkhole. Google Maps.
On this occasion the sinkhole is thought likely to have been caused by the collapse of a shaft at a former copper mine in the area. The Allihies Copper Mine operated from the early nineteenth century until the late 1950s, at its peak employing around 1600 people. It is possible that part of the mine has collapsed due to recent wet weather in the area, and Cork County Council has asked the Exploration and Mining Division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to carry out a survey of the site. The council is also trying to ascertain who now owns the former mine.
Remaining surface structures at the Allihies Copper Mine. Allihies Copper Mine Museum.
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