On the icy plains of Kildare – Big Snows of 1947, 1963 and 1982

March 2, 2018

snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” ― James Joyce, The Dead

The current cold snap is causing problems all over the country, but we all have been there before. Most of us will remember the snows of 1963 and 1982, and some of us will recall White ’47 as well.

The ever excellent Turtle Bunbury has a wonderful piece comparing these three weather events – www.turtlebunbury.com/history/history_irish/history_irish_big_snow.htm – which is well worth a read. There is a more Kildare focused piece in the Kildare Library website – www.kildare.ie/library/ehistory/2010/02/on_the_icy_plains_of_kildare.asp – reprinted from the Leinster Leader during the last major snow event in 2010.

But these all pale into insignificance when compared with the Great Frost of 1739, where many of Ireland’s rivers froze solid. It is estimated that half a million people died and it led to the Forgotten Famine. “Arctic Ireland: The Extraordinary Story of the Great Frost and Forgotten Famine of 1740-41” by David Dickson is an excellent publication on this topic, and if you wish to read more, it is available on JSTOR – www.jstor.org/stable/20495100

Stay safe and warm!

Previous post:

Next post: