The Erosion of Rosslare Spit

It has been decades since the building of Rosslare Harbour, but the impact of it could be felt by families and communities then, as it continues to be felt today.


Rosslare Harbour has undoubtedly been a mixed blessing since its construction, which began in 1867. However, for the community of people living in an area once known as Rosslare Fort, the downsides of the building of Rosslare Pier and viaducts outweighed the benefits. Coastal erosion has been evident in Rosslare from as early as 1625, however, it is now clear that the construction of Rosslare Harbour, particularly the reclamation of the land surrounding the harbour and the building of the pier which opened in 1906, greatly accelerated the rate of erosion. Coastal erosion can be problematic for many reasons, however the most devastating of these is the loss of land that people are living on.

This is exactly what happened to the community of families that lived on the small spit of land in Rosslare where Rosslare Fort once stood. The Spit was eight kilometres long, almost touching Raven Point. On the top of this spit, there were once a community of people, a lighthouse and Fort. Rosslare Fort has a long history, however it is most famous for being home to a lifeboat association, set up after the sinking of the Pomona. Eventually, the slow work of erosion culminated, and during a storm in 1925, the small community of people living on this spit of land were forced to flee in their own lifeboats, and three different sections of the spit were destroyed in one night, leaving them isolated at the top of the spit. Ovwer the next few years, sediment continued to be washed away, and now only pieces of the spit are visible during low tides. All the homes have been washed away, with only the barest remains of brick and foundation visible. These people were uprooted from their homes and moved to Wexford town where most of these families settled. However, not all of the people uprooted in 1925 went on to live in Wexford, for example, one Nicky J. Goodall went on to live in Burry Port, South Wales.

A memorial for Rosslare Fort and Lifeboat Association Association was erected in 1981, and further information is included on their website which contains a detailed history of the fort from the first records of it in 1599 to its destruction. The Rosslare Harbour Maritime Museum also holds detailed records of the Fort. Ultimately, the story of Rosslare Fort and it's community shows that issues of coastal erosion being faced surrounding the Wexford coastline today have been a problem for quite some time, the effects of the construction of Rosslare harbour echoing through the decades to present day.