White St. Patrick’s Day?
After the last two Christmases, the Irish are in no rush to start wishing for a white one ever again. It’s not so much that the snow was particularly severe, it’s simply that Ireland is not at all used to it (The Irish government purchased its first snow-plough only eighteen months ago).
Ireland‘s dominant weather system comes from the Gulf of Mexico which ensures that the winters never get that cold – snow is so rare that up to recently the kids use to get a day off school to play in the snow if there was even just an inch or maybe two. The climate is usually mild and it is not at all uncommon (verified by one of our Horticulture students last year) to have palm trees across the South Coast.
However, Malin Head, the most northerly point in Ireland is almost 56 degrees North, which means it’s much further north than all of the USA, all of Central Europe, and almost exactly equal to Moscow. If you moved Ireland directly West as far as North America, it would sit roughly into the southern part of Hudson Bay. In recent years, Ireland has begun to feel like it is located in mid-Canada.
In the search for good forecasting, many Irish have turned to Michael Gallagher, professional postman and part-time weather forecaster (www.michaelgallagher.ie). Gallagher, who studies the habits of insects and birds to base his predictions upon, has been intensely accurate for long-term forecasting. According to his website, if the robin sings in the evenings in Spring or Summer, rain is sure to come on the morrow; ducks waddling is a sign of wind (obviously); and worms, crawling on the road or on the surface of the ground, is a fore-bringer of rain, but, if seen crawling on the doorstep, look out for floods.
The Donegal man, who lives in Glenfin, said the first danger sign was the early arrival of spring. His predictions, which have been confirmed by professional forecasters, are for a severe cold snap in the coming days. “I even think that St. Patrick could be white, never mind green, this year,” he said.
The postman, whose accurate prediction of a white Christmas cost bookmakers over €80,000, claims to have forecast the last two white Christmases.
Gallagher insisted that we need to be more cognizant of nature. “Nature is rarely wrong.”
“Even after the snow I think we are in for a lot of very bad storms,” he warned.
St Patrick’s Day in Ireland is not quite as emphatically celebrated as it is in many US cities. There is a parade, but the river stays murky brown!