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9 things you never knew about Irish weather

Led Zepplin, Ireland’s Big Wind, Cromwell’s death…

“A SOFT DAY”, “a bit nippy”, “supposed to last for the weekend” – they’re all things we’re used to hearing about the weather here in Ireland.

But what about the things we didn’t know?

The Big Winds, mosquito attacks, and the weather’s affect on a Led Zeppelin album cover?

Damian Corless’ new book Looks Like Rain covers 9,000 years of Irish weather, and we’ve picked out some of the best bits…

1. The Big Snow of 1982 wasn’t the only Big Snow we had you know

In AD 1339 “the cattle and winter grass of Ireland suffered much from frost and snow, which lasted from the end of the first fortnight in winter into spring”.


2. Cromwell probably died because he was bitten by a Cork mosquito

According to Corless’ book the health problems that eventually killed Oliver Cromwell were likely caused by malaria he contracted in Cork, where mosquitos thrived in the mild and marshy conditions.

Today Ireland has 18 species of mosquito.

calafellvalo calafellvalo

3. In 1973 the Irish weather gave us one of rock music’s greatest album covers

In 1973 Led Zeppelin decided that they wanted to try something a little different for their fifth album Houses of the Holy.

They went with a concept based on a photo shoot at the Giant’s Causeway, but it rained for ten days straight.

The rain meant that the photographer had to alter his plan and shoot the two child models in black and white, which after retouching turned out to be an “other-worldly quality” and the cover went on to be nominated for a Grammy.

hoth1 The final image is a composite of 30 frames of the same two children Classic Record Sleeves Classic Record Sleeves

4. Weathermen HATE Bank Holidays

According to Met Éireann’s Gerard Fleming:

Bank Holiday weekends are a forecaster’s nightmare. Expectations are sky high – levels are in the heavens.
No one likes working on a bank holiday because you’re on a hiding to nothing if you get it wrong.

Travel Chaos Disruptions Oh CHRIST! Not another Bank Holiday Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

5. Speaking of weathermen, Ireland’s first was William Molyneux in the 17th century

Molyneux (1656 – 1698) founded the Dublin Philosophical Society (which later became the Royal Dublin Society) and was Ireland’s first scientific weather observer.

Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons

6. The weather can affect ice-cream and chocolate availability

In 1949:

…an uncommonly hot and dry spring and summer stunted the growth of the grass which led to low milk yields which in turn causes a shortage of milk and ice-cream in Dublin city and country that summer.

In 1953 a combination of mild weather and a “big spurt in the growth of grass” meant that the country’s chocolate factory workers were all put on overtime to cope with a massive milk surplus.

Unilever archives / HB Ice Cream Memories Unilever archives / HB Ice Cream Memories / HB Ice Cream Memories

7. We haven’t just had Big Snows, we’ve had Big Winds too

The Night of the Big Wind in 1839 was so memorable that peoples’ recollections of it were used to determine the age and bona fides of those applying for old age pensions in the early 20th century.

Corless details a Dublin Evening Post report which stated that:

Ireland has been the chief victim of the hurricane – every part of Ireland, every field, every town, every village in Ireland have felt its dire effects.

There were two separate reports in Cavan of fish being plucked from lakes and dropped in far off fields, while The Catholic Herald wrote that:

… all along the west coast for many days afterwards herrings were found six miles inland.

Pandawhale Pandawhale

8. And let’s not forget the Great Frost

The Great Frost of 1740 was so severe that Ireland’s ports were frozen for almost a month.

Coal prices spiked to record levels and the cold snap led to “an orgy of illegal tree chopping, with fourteen individuals arrested for felling trees in the Phoenix Park alone”.

Gifsoup Gifsoup

9. Umbrellas, can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em

Umbrellas caught on in Ireland in second half of the 19th century, and according to Corless they were the “mark of the well-heeled and the upwardly mobile”.

jontintinjordan jontintinjordan

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