The washed away peat exposed gravel and rock.

Hillwalker captures aftermath of landslide

The dramatic aftermath of recent landslides in a remote part of West Cavan were captured by a local hillwalker.

It’s thought that torrential downpours on Sunday, July 4, caused the vast sections of peat at the summit of Benbrack to give way, creating an enormous surge down the mountainside. Ten days later the 50-metre wide earthen scars where the peat was stripped back was captured by trekking enthusiast Kevin Dockery.

The former garda had been alerted to the natural phenomenon by a Glangevlin farmer.

Kevin had suspected that a stream flowing from the Derrynananta lake on Benbrack’s summit may have triggered the slippage. However, on inspection, the landslide started on the Benbrack summit plateau at a height of 470 metres above sea level, about 400m south west of Derrynananta.

“About six feet deep of peat slipped away down the mountainside,” explained Kevin of the largest of three landslides in the area - two in Benbrack a smaller one on Cuilcagh.

“It was as if a big Hi-Mac scooped away all the peat down to the level where there were gravel and stones.

“There were massive chunks of peat gouged up - they wouldn’t fit into a car trailer they were that big. It just cascaded down the mountainside, it was extraordinary.”

Looking at where debris and flattened vegetation lay, he suspects the downpour caused a brook to swell by six feet high into a “raging torrent”.

He marvels at the “amazing force”, which must have been generated, and the impact it had.

“That ground hasn’t been exposed to the air for many thousands of years. It looked like the peat had been scooped up and the stones on the exposed surface smoothed over,” he said.

Kevin describes this area as remote, estimating the nearest house lies “at least two miles away”. He was surprised by just how “inaccessible” it was.

“It was hard to get to because the terrain is extremely rugged. Every step you take you have to be extra careful,” he recalled.

Kevin is an experienced hillwalker and has great respect for the hazards posed by such treacherous terrain.

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to go next nor near it,” he warned. “The area is to be avoided because the ground is very unstable. There’s deep crevices either side of the landslide, and some of them were covered over with heather and grass, so you wouldn’t actually see the openings, they were so narrow.”