A village in County Monaghan is bracing for the worst after several sinkholes emerge on a matter of days.
Yesterday, we reported that a sinkhole had opened up on the site of a GAA club in the village of Magheracloone, Co Monaghan, causing extensive damage to the property.
Since then, two new sinkholes have appeared nearby, leaving a depression measuring around 120m in diameter.
Two crown holes around 8m in width have developed a result of the initial basin.
A number of houses have been evacuated in the area over fears more of the ground may open up in the coming days.
A team of specialist geological experts working on behalf of the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment have been investigating the site.
They concluded that the bizarre split seems to have been caused after pillars in an old gypsum mine collapsed.
The experts are now trying to determine whether further sinkholes are possible and what can be done to salvage the land.
Officials from Monaghan County Council and gardaí have met with representatives of Gyproc Ireland this afternoon.
Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland this morning, one of the experts said that there are underground mine workings located under the pitch which are believed to have been used in the 1940’s to obtain gypsum.
Gypsum is used to prepare plaster, chalk and wallboard and can also be used as a fertilizer.
Geological expert Koen Verbruggen said: “There are levels of old mine workings in the area; they are well-mapped and are known about. What has happened is in some of those old mine workings, it appears that pillars which are used to support the mine route may have collapsed at depth… and there’s a sag at surface resulting in this fracturing and sinkhole.”
When asked if there was a risk of more collapses, he said: “The short answer is we don’t know if there will be more collapses. The only thing is to monitor the situation, usually it’s one collapse and that will be the end of it. If there are further collapses, it’s likely to occur quickly.
He said that all tests showed that there was no spread, and that it’s a positive that there’s no critical infrastructure built over the mine workings. “This is an area that’s largely fields… there are no hospitals or anything.”
It doesn't look likely that the Magheracloone GAA team will return to their pitch anytime soon, with the club’s chairman, Francis Jones, indicating that it could take up to two years for repairs to be completed.
“The biggest thing is the shock of it and the devastation to the football club and the community centre. It’s all out of bounds for us now. Thankfully local clubs have contacted us and allowed us use their facilities so they have,” he said.
Traffic restrictions will remain in place near the site of the incident until further notice.