A digger driver had a miraculous escape on Lahinch Beach in County Clare last month when the machine he was driving became completely surrounded by fast rising sea waters.
The unscheduled winter paddle took place last Thursday, February 23, as the incoming tide rose quickly around the machine, which was part of a crew working to restoring storm defences on the popular beach. Unperturbed by the rising waters, the driver continued to move stones on the beach before bidding a swift retreat as the waves began to hit his machine. The image was witnessed by a number of local beach goers – with a crowd gathering to take picture of the seafaring Volvo Excavator.
“I was taking a walk down that prom as I do most days. You see them [the diggers] working out there every day, we’ve kind-of become used to them over the last few weeks. But this one particular digger seemed to be leaving it a bit late when the tide was coming is,” said Lahinch man, Matthew Kelly.
“It didn’t seem to bother him at all, he just kept on moving the rocks. When he was finished, he went off to the end of the prom. I wasn’t overly concerned because we are used to seeing the diggers working on the beach, but I saw that a lot of people were starting to gather around and take photographs.
“He [the driver] did leave it a bit late this time though. When he was driving back, one wave went over the back of it [the digger] and a bit of steam rose up from that. But other than that, he didn’t seem too bothered by it.
“The people are used to the diggers – we seem them down there all the time. I suppose, because of the job that they have to do, they have to use diggers and get down there [onto the beach]. But I think it was some good driving considering the conditions.”
Clare County Council is currently undertaking strengthening of the sea wall at Lahinch which was damaged as part of a series of storms which battered the Irish coast in January and February of 2014.
Part of this work is being undertaken by West Clare construction company L&M Keating. A spokesperson from L&M Keating confirmed that the company are currently engaged in ‘rock armour works’ at Lahinch but decline to comment further on event.

Picture by Matthew Kelly

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