1. The Night of the Big Wind - 1839
The Night of the Big Wind was a massive hurricane that swept over Ireland on the night of January 6, 1839.
Up to 300 people died in Ireland, tens of thousands were left homeless, and winds reached well over 115 miles per hour in a category three hurricane. Twenty-five percent of the houses in Dublin were destroyed and 42 ships were sunk.
The storm began after a period of very odd Irish weather. A heavy snowstorm on January 5 was followed by a balmy sunny day, almost unheard of for that time of year.
Some people claimed the temperature reached as high as 75 degrees and the heavy snow of January 5 totally melted.
During daytime on Janury 6, a deep Atlantic low pressure system began moving across Ireland where it collided with the warm front.
The first news of bad weather was reported in County Mayo. The steeple at the Church of Ireland in Castlebar was blown down.
As the evening wore on the winds began to howl and soon reached hurricane force.
The arrival of the hurricane force winds would never be forgotten by those who lived through it.
The Dublin Evening Post described its arrival with the following: “about half past ten it rose into a high gale, which continued to increase in fury until after midnight, when it blew a most fearful and destructive tempest”
In Dublin, crowds flocked to the old Parliament House in College Green to hide under the portico, believing it one of the few places strong enough to withstand the storm.
2. The Big Snow of 1947
Anyone who lived through the blizzard of 1947 will always have it engraved on their memory. The harsh conditions and the scarcity of fuel and food made life difficult for both man and beast.
The extreme weather began at the end of February 1947 and continued well into the month of March.
The snow and wind was quite severe on the last Friday in February.
The snow fell intermittently until the Monday, when a blizzard set in with strong cold winds and harsh daytime snows and this continued for twenty four hours non stop. The blizzard was driven by a fierce east wind and swept the country on the Tuesday.
It paralyzed road and rail services and brought all traffic to a standstill. Huge snow-drifts, some up to fifteen feet high were common in many areas.
The cold weather began around the middle of February and lasted through March. Up to 600 people are said to have died.
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