LIVES could be lost on Lahinch beach as a result of new parking bylaws which will force all the town’s surf school to trade in one area of the promenade. That is the opinion of surf school operator Ben Bennett, who believes that the schools provide the ﬁrst line of defense for people who get into difﬁculty while in the water at Lahinch.
Mr Bennett, who operates Ben’s Surf Clinic in Lahinch, was responding to the introduction of the new bylaws which he says will not ﬁx any of the difﬁculties experienced by beach users at Lahinch.
The bylaws force the surf school to operate and to enter the beach at the northern end of the Lahinch Promenade. They were put in place after a number of complaints were made by members of the public about overcrowding at the beach.
“There seems to be a confusion between surfers and surf schools,” said Ben.
“None of the surf schools allow the surfers into the swimming zone but it is the inexperienced surfers that do drift in there. The surf schools are getting blamed for what the surfers are doing.
“Surﬁng is keeping Lahinch alive all winter long. It is not just a summer thing – the car park will be ﬁlled with surfers in the middle of the winter and all of them will be paying parking fees to Clare County Council – we are getting a really bad rap here.”
According to Ben, the surf school also provide a year round safety net for people using the beach at Lahinch.
“I personally rescue about seven to eight people a year at Lahinch because I am on the beach all the time. I would imagine that every other surf instructor would do something similar,” continued Ben.
“The council are putting us at the furthest point possible from the beach. We can’t see the beach. I am located at the ﬁrst ramp down and from there I can see the beach and advise the people who are there about the tides and the currents.
“There will deﬁnitely be more accidents and more incidents due to the fact that surf schools are being placed at the back of the prom. I think the safety issues are very serious and I believe that some day, someone is going to be stretchered off very badly injured just as a result of moving the surf schools back. Someone is unfortunately going to drown.”