Status Orange wind warning will kick in nationwide at 5am on Sunday
The Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony has been cancelled due to safety concerns as Met Eireann issued a nationwide weather warning ahead of Storm Ciara's arrival.
A nationwide orange weather warning for wind will come into effect from the early hours of Sunday morning until noon tomorrow as Storm Ciara sets out to batter the country with strong winds.
Two orange weather warnings, in place until this evening, have been issued as strong winds and rain are set to hit Ireland.
Galway 2020 organisers said the event has now been deemed "unsafe to go ahead".
The west and north-west are due to be battered by heavy rain and winds with gusts of up to 120kmh today - and that's even before Storm Ciara blows in from the north Atlantic tomorrow.
The national forecaster upgraded its wind warning to status orange yesterday, affecting counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway.
In a statement, organisers for Galway 2020 said:
"Galway 2020 is extremely disappointed to announce the cancellation of the finale of our Opening Ceremony this evening due to the severe national weather warnings in place for the whole of today, tonight and tomorrow.
"We have been in constant contact with the relevant authorities since the weather warnings were put in place earlier this week and, in the interests of the safety of the public the weather warnings currently in place mean that it has been deemed unsafe to go ahead.
"We are saddened for the community cast, our volunteers and the whole team who have worked so hard during the last weeks and months."
The storm is set to cause havoc nationwide, with Met Eireann issuing two status yellow warnings for the entire country.
It means that voters and sports fans will be struggling against the elements for much of the day.
The warning for counties Donegal and Mayo goes into effect from noon until 4pm today. It could see south to south-west winds reach mean speeds of between 65kmh and 80kmh, with gusts of up to 120kmh.
The same warning will apply to Galway from 1pm to 6pm today.
"There will be a gap on Saturday evening before another storm comes in on Sunday," said Met Éireann's head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack.
The forecaster is warning of very strong and potentially damaging gusts as Ciara, the third named storm of the year, blows in from the north Atlantic.
Very strong winds have been churned up by the jet stream due to the clash of Arctic air over Canada and tropical air from the south, she said.
The storm will bring another bout of very heavy rain with possible sleet, hail and snow showers over Connacht and Ulster, Ms Cusack said.
"It's not going to be a major storm but it will be a very gusty, windy day on Sunday."
To make matters worse, the combination of spring tides coupled with high seas could lead to coastal flooding, especially along the south, west and north-western coasts at the weekend and well into next week, Ms Cusack said.
"We're entering a very windy period for next week and there could be two more storms (then)," she said.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is asking road users to exercise caution while using the roads over the weekend.
Drivers need to slow down in wet weather conditions, especially on high-speed roads such as dual carriageways and motorways.
Cyclists and pedestrians should make sure they are visible to other road users, added the RSA.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have also asked the public to refrain from visiting Connemara National Park, Wicklow Mountains National Park or Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park while Met Éireann wind warning is in place.
A number of parks nationwide will be closed due to the wind warning: