AN endless body of water flows under the small boat. Its monumental force can be felt as the small-engine vessel struggles upstream, fighting against a river that seems to want to catch it, and cast it away out to sea.
Pat Lysaght guides the raft with a steady hand, to him, navigating the Shannon is a more familiar task than driving a car. However, even Pat is on guard as he navigates the currents, giving a Limerick Leader reporter an up-close look at the extent of the flooding caused by recent torrential rains and high tides.
“We have been mixed up with Corbally, and the river all of our lives. It was our Kilkee. My parents built this house, alongside the river where the huts were, and we have been living here ever since,” says Pat, as we slowly chug past his flooded back garden, which looks out onto the Shannon at Mill Road, Corbally.
“My parents, when they died, they gave me the old house. And I knocked it because it was being flooded every couple of years. I raised this one up a bit extra, but we are still liable to get a flood,” he added.
At its mouth at Loop Head, the Shannon flow rate can reach 300 cubic metres per second, well over twice that of Ireland's second largest river, the River Corrib at 104.8 metres per second.
Flooding has been a major part of Pat’s life on the river, with the waters surpassing his homes defences six years ago, and flooding his house.
However, Pat says the high water has become a more common occurrence in recent years.
"With this global warming now, we can expect it again. But I don’t mind, we live next to the river, I wouldn’t trade it for anyone. And, in case of a flood, we could escape in a boat," Pat said with a laugh.
Limerick is bracing still for further floods as high levels of water are expected on River Shannon.
Staff with Limerick City and County Council will continue their round-the-clock monitoring of water levels along the River Shannon catchment area as the threat of flooding continues.
Eleven pumps, a boom, and sandbags have been deployed to the areas most at risk of flooding.
Lands are already underwater in Montpelier, Castleconnell, Annacotty, and the Mountshannon area of Lisnagry with forecasters predicting higher water levels in the next few days.
It’s expected that water levels will increase along the Shannon as more water is released from Parteen Weir in the next few days.