Tuesday 12 December 2017

We've Not Seen Snow Like This in 20 Years

Front lawn Sunday morning
In the previous post you saw pictures of a light dusting of snow which fell on the 8th. In previous years here, we would have had every reason to expect that a dusting was our lot. Winter was now over and we could begin the long climb back up to Spring, Solstice nearly upon us, and all that. One snowy day and that only light was our quota.

The grassy 'boreen' down to Flynn's fields
Everyone will tell you that the West of Ireland has a lovely, moderate "maritime" style climate with the huge Atlantic Ocean keeping us warm in winter and cooling us in Summer. Not for us over this side, the extremes of cold or of heat felt by the "continental" climate areas. 

Front lawn from top window as the sun was going down.
Well, the moderate maritime thing may be true but the "never get decent snow" thing creaked over the weekend and gave us a lovely, picturesque Sunday 10th. I was able to race round as you do first thing, overloading the camera with poorly lit, blue-toned pics (you always think you're going to have to work fast and early, because it won't "stick"), and still able to go round again in the afternoon when my pics might have better light.

Pit props installed to hold up the carport
roof against the possible weight of snow.
A bale of hay for the sheep. 
Of course, these days, we enjoy excellent weather forecasting, at least short-range, from Met Éireann and other websites which use their data, so we had plenty of warning from about the Thursday. I had never seen "Orange Warning for Snow" come up before and this one had the usual very precise county by county risk plus very accurate timings - 23:00 Saturday round to midnight Sun/Mon.

Drifts on the new kitchen roof.
I was able to take 3 sensible precautions. K-Dub long ago advised me that the joists I had put into the carport roof were a bit slender (at 6" deep) to go the 14 foot span and would need to be propped centrally if there was any risk of more than a few inches of snow.

The young Buff Orp' rooster shouts the
I bought extra coal in case I couldn't get the car out by Monday and a bale of hay for the sheep for if all their grazing grass was buried. I was quietly confident that we'd be OK even with Liz away the weekend. I went to bed happy well before that 23:00 deadline and slept like a log.

The sheep get extra 'crunch' and some hay.
It was like being a kid again (even better - no chance of Mum saying we had to go to school!) to wake up and see that blue-white light flooding the windows and the gentle movement of big flakes of snow still falling and to know that I didn't have to go anywhere, no struggling to work up the M2, I could just sit back, take my photo's and trudge about in the 'deep and crisp and even'.

Towser at speed. The snow is deeper than his legs are long!
Turned out we were luckier still. We got more than most. Facebook friends were posting pics of dustings , an inch, or none. Liz, down in Silverwood-land got about 2 inches. Here we got 4-6". deeper in the drifts. Unusual snow for Roscommon. When I asked the locals whether this happened often, one old boy said "We've not seen snow like this in 20 years". That was also the view in the Post Office.

Deefer (left) and Poppea play in the snow.
I guess I must guard against boring you guys with too many snow scenes, but I couldn't resist these few. I hope you enjoy them. Of course it is now Tuesday, 2 days later and that maritime climate has come back as days warming to 4ºC and all this picturesque whiteness melting away. This morning saw great gobs of snow dripping from the trees, the paths and roads turning to slush and the exposed soil and grass a sloppy wet mess again. It's always a relief mid winter to get a freeze making the mud stiff or hard, however inconvenient are the frozen drinkers and hose pipe for the livestock.

This is one of the most iconic pics of our recent past - pulling
into the driveway for the first time on Dec 12th 2011 after our
overnight 500 mile convoy in the Fiat and 2CV
My only other 'story' for this post is one 'invented' by Facebook. Both of us had missed this one and there was a risk of the significance of today sailing by unmarked. FB though, have a little algorithm running which digs up pics you posted exactly x number of years ago and asks you if you want to re-post them. This morning they hit me with the picture shown here of the red Fiat and the 2CV and trailer in front of the house from exactly 6 years ago.

Obviously, I did. This is one of the most iconic pics we have from here - it shows the cars pulled into the driveway for the first time at the end of our overnight, 500 mile, emigration journey (well, emi- for me, re-immigration, I suppose, for Liz!). This pic appeared first on this blog at


Snowy Sycamore
My diary from that day tells us that we called in briefly to mooch around but then to stash the 2CV in the cattle race (invisible from the road - we were less trusting then) before heading to Castlerea to drop some champagne to the Estate Agent's place (we must have been richer, too) and then head to Silverwood's for our first proper overnight together as Irish residents.

Global warming? 2 big new icebergs 'calve' off the well
known Roscommon Glacier.
The next day we apparently drove all the way back intent on starting work, at least achieving that the chimneys were swept clear of jackdaw nests and fires lit in both ends of the house. We both felt the need to make the house aware of us and to welcome us - we needed to bring warmth. I like to think we've done a lot more of exactly that in the intervening 6 years.

Just because there was no-one here to tell
me I shouldn't be building snowmen at
my age. The dogs liked it.
If you are interested in that rebuild phase, from about Dec 2011 to May 2012, then there are plenty more posts on this blog. Enjoy the read.

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