It's heaven for children but hell for motorists
More cold weather threatens schools and roads
WINTER'S Arctic grip on the country is to tighten even further this week, with more snow and even colder weather on the way.
Local authorities went into overdrive across the country last night, deploying gritting machines to keep primary routes clear.
The National Roads Authority said there were ample supplies of salt in stock, with more than 100,000 tonnes available to local authorities to treat roads.
However, motorists were warned against making unnecessary journeys and, while the three main airports operated with just a handful of minor delays, there was some disruption to bus services.
Evelyn Cusack of Met Eireann warned that even colder weather is on the way, with temperatures expected to plummet to below -11C on Wednesday and Thursday as the country is blasted by Siberian winds.
Some schools may be forced to close and several primary and secondary schools in the north-west, Co Wicklow, and Westmeath, have already announced they will be closed today.
Bus Eireann also warned of possible disruption to school transport services from today in areas affected by the bad weather.
School bus services operating on minor roads in counties Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny are likely to be subject to diversion and possible cancellation, said the company.
Meanwhile, Friends of the Elderly warned pensioners travelling to Dublin city for Senior Citizens Day today to take extra care and to use public transport.
Kerry was one of the areas worst affected where widespread severe frost overnight and temperatures as low as -6 degrees forced the cancellation of many sporting fixtures.
Gardai said that while main routes were passable, secondary roads and estates in Tralee town especially were treacherous.
The Conor Pass has remained closed throughout the weekend and is not expected to reopen before the cold snap ends.
Heavy snowfall in parts of east Cork overnight on Saturday compounded icy conditions and gardai have urged motorists to drive with extreme caution.
The Youghal to Castlemartyr road was one of the worst affected routes while the Youghal bypass remains icy in parts.
The region shivered in some of the coldest November weekends on record, with treacherous road conditions across north Connacht in particular.
The N17 Tuam to Sligo route was very icy on several stretches, with treacherous conditions reported on the N4 at Collooney.
Less exposed roads in Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo and Galway were best avoided as the early afternoon sunshine failed to bring the ease in driving conditions enjoyed on some of the major routes.
Roads in north Connemara and in several parts of Galway city had a brief respite after lunchtime, but were freezing over as temperatures dropped again in the evening.
In counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, gardai said local authorities were only gritting national primary routes with secondary roads and county roads described as being in a hazardous condition.
Earlier in the weekend, the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team, which has been placed on emergency standby, was called in to help gardai move almost 50 cars that had got stuck in the Barnesmore Mountain gap on the N15 between Donegal town and Ballybofey on Saturday evening.
Last night, schools across the county were notifying parents of closures today. Among them, the Rosses Community School and primary schools in Ranafast, Loughanure and Annagry, in west Donegal.
Meath County Council yesterday issued an appeal to homeowners, "not to leave taps running overnight as this will lead to water shortages and may result in disruptions to supply".
A spokeswoman said gritted routes could be seen on the council website www.meath.ie
In Co Louth, a spokesman for the county council said that 95pc of regional roads in the county were being gritted but warned that even roads that have been gritted can be dangerous.
In Wicklow, the Sally and Wicklow gaps were impassable, and are again expected to be closed today.
In Dublin, some bus routes were cancelled yesterday after snowfalls, with Dublin Bus set to make a decision on various routes this morning.