Rossnowlagh - Ireland

Complete description of case study





Title Rossnowlagh
National level Ireland
Regional level Donegal county
Local level Donegal


The case study area lies in the Donegal Bay, just south of Donegal Town in the northwest of Ireland. Field evidence suggests that a balanced system alternating between erosion and accretion has been replaced by a solely erosional system. Natural processes are trying to move the Rossnowlagh beach and dunes to a position further east.

Another possible factor in the acceleration of dune erosion may be the progressive reduction of the substantial cobble storm beach that lies between the dunes and the beach. Furthermore, due to pressure from recreation, the variety of species is being reduced and thus the natural resilience of the dune and beach system is threatened.

Current measures for protecting the dune front of Belalt Strand have been effective locally, but, due to the ad hoc basis on which they were implemented, they are not really effective for overall beach development. An irregular, manmade coastline has come about, with rock armour sections alternating with the remaining natural stretches of dune.

Currently, the future sustainable development and protection of the area is being studied in a more integrated way. Several options for future development have been proposed and analysed, but no detailed actions have yet been implemented.


Coastal characteristics
  • Study area: 2 km ; Sedimentary cell: 3 (northern, central, southern)
  • Type of coast: soft rock coast, beaches (with well-sorted fine sand and gravel)
  • Tidal regime: high-energy swell, meso-macro tidal (from 1.5 m during neap tide to 4.5 m during spring tide)
  • Range of waves : mean Hsig = 15-20 m ; subject to high energy swell and storm wave impact (increased storminess in the North Atlantic)
  • Other: uplift ( 0,1-0,3 mm/year maximal)
Policy options Hold the line (locally)
No detailed actions have been implemented yet
Socio-economic activities Tourism and recreation, nature conservation.
Engineering techniques Historical: Rock armour
Future: Armoured revetments, Re-nourishment of the dunes.


Name Vincent Lynn
Institution Donegal County
Telephone / fax +44 (0)0353-77-73734