Ireland is bracing itself for the first big freeze of the winter – with temperatures set to plummet to minus four.

Motorists have been warned to prepare for icy roads and dangerous driving conditions.

And the national weather service Met Eireann has warned that the bitterly cold snap will grip Ireland into the middle of the week.

Forecaster Owen Sherlock told the Irish Sun: “Donegal and the Midlands will be the coldest parts of the country because of the fog.

“Temperatures will get as low as -4°C at night and three to five degrees in the day time.

“Icy rain is expected to lash down on Leinster and Munster the entire weekend.

“That rain will clear on Monday but it will remain cold with plenty of frost around.”

Widespread sharp or severe frost is expected to cause dangerous icy patches on untreated road surfaces.

Reports say local authorities have 150,000 tons of salt on standby as they prepare for the worst.

The Road Safety Authority has urged drivers to watch out for dangerous black ice spots.

The NRA said: “If the road looks polished or glossy like a puddle it could be black ice, one of winter’s worst hazards.”