Centuries old diaries reveal Irish rain is nothing new Photo by: Google Images

Centuries old diaries reveal summer of flooding rain is nothing new for Dublin


Centuries old diaries reveal Irish rain is nothing new Photo by: Google Images

Ireland’s miserable summer is nothing new – according to 18th century diaries released online by Dublin City Library.

Digitized handwritten diaries from 1716 to 1734 highlight one man’s daily observations of the vagaries of Dublin’s weather.

The Irish Times reports that Isaac Butler’s account of life in the Irish capital include damning reports on the state of the weather.

The diarist, a personal friend of Jonathan Swift, reports how heavy rain in July 1719 prompted Dubliners to believe that "the grand dissolution is at hand."

Butler’s 18th century diary also recounts weather news from abroad including reports from Poland where "freezing conditions had caused bears to break into homes to devour ‘many children and cattle."

Senior Dublin City librarian Eithne Massey told the paper how the collection was uncovered.

She said: “The diary was part of the John Gilbert collection that was left to the library at the end of the 19th century.

“Its author remained unknown to the library until this year, when research by Dr Alan Smyth at Trinity College Dublin confirmed his identity.”

The Irish Times report states that Butler was variously described as a meteorologist, an astrologer, a botanist and also a "Parish Constable" living in St Nicholas’s Parish at the corner of St Patrick’s Street and Bull Alley.

Massey also told the paper that Butler "consorted" with scientists as readily as quacks, collaborating with scientist John Rutty to conduct tests on claimed curative properties of well waters but then using astrology to predict weather.

August conditions during his time looked remarkably similar to 2012. Weather reports for an August date in 1727 read: "rain mostly, all day, SW" whilst another date is described as "flying clouds and stormy, wind at SW, rainy even." On August 25th, 1717, the day offered "fair sunshine."

Massey confirmed that Butler also drew on the newspapers for information. He reported that July 17th, 1719 "brought such a deluge of rain, attended with the most violent thunder that ever was known in Dublin."

The floods that resulted caused "a great flood in St Patrick Street where a poor woman coming out of her bed was killed in the waters that were in her room before any assistance could come to her, in short the consternation was so great that many thought the grand dissolution at hand."

Butler married three times and died by suicide, aged 65, through an overdose of laudanum and brandy.

The Butler diaries are available to view at www.dublincitypubliclibraries.com


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