Where in Ireland is most at risk of sinkholes? New map reveals all

28 Sep 2018

Image: Bespaliy/Shutterstock

A GAA pitch in Monaghan is not the only place in Ireland susceptible to sinkholes, as a new map clearly shows.

The groundspeople of Magheracloone GAA Club in Monaghan came in for a bit of shock this week after finding their pitch was suddenly the site of an enormous sinkhole, possibly caused by mining operations in the area.

While in this case the pitch took the main brunt of the damage, major subsidence such as this can potentially destroy buildings or other property.

But Monaghan is not the only part of the island susceptible to such an event, according to a new map produced by software and data solutions provider Gamma.

Using its risk assessment reporting tool, Perilfinder, the company identified a number of areas across the country that are more exposed to subsidence events such as sinkholes.

The likelihood of a sinkhole is dependent on factors such as soil depth, soil type, rock type and historic underground structures. The extent of subsidence, meanwhile, depends on underlying environmental factors and the design of building foundations.

So, based on analysis of Ireland’s terrain, the counties of Clare, Galway and Roscommon are the most likely to see sinkholes spring up. Gamma said each of these counties has more than 15pc of their total buildings falling within a high-risk zone.

Gamma's map showing areas of Ireland most susceptible to sinkholes.

Darker areas of the map show where subsidence is most likely in Ireland. Image: Gamma

Important data

In fact, of the 123,401 buildings that are registered in Galway, 26pc of them fall within the high-risk zone. Similar results were found in Clare at 24pc, followed by Roscommon at 16pc.

On the other end of the scale, the supposed safest counties in Ireland from sinkholes are Wicklow and Wexford, each of which has a less than 1pc chance of one occurring. Looking at Ireland as a whole, fewer than 5pc of buildings – both commercial and residential – fall within areas prone to subsidence.

“Thankfully, the recent land collapse on a GAA pitch in Monaghan didn’t result in any injuries. However, the sports field was damaged, the school had to be evacuated and surrounding roads were closed. Situations like this can cause significant damage and people can end up seriously hurt,” said Gamma’s CEO, Feargal O’Neill.

“This curated Irish data can be used by organisations, including insurance companies and local authorities, to assess existing threats and lower the risk.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic