Wednesday 21 March 2018

Snow patrols battle the beast across Duhallow

Aerial view as Macroom town and surrounding areas lie under a blanket of thick snow. Picture by John Delea
Aerial view as Macroom town and surrounding areas lie under a blanket of thick snow. Picture by John Delea

Sheila Fitzgerald

It was a case of all hell breaking loose countrywide when Emma clashed with the Beast and Duhallow was no exception with heavy snowfall and drifts up to a metre deep in places. 

Some compared the snowstorm to the 1984 fall while older people remarked that it was as bad as the 1947 Big Snow when one of the coldest episodes of weather in living memory brought death, isolation, and hunger to the people of Ireland.

However, when the going gets tough the tough get going and, panicked by media warnings, the people of Duhallow were in preparation mode well ahead of the arrival of the cold blast. 

From early Tuesday, determined shoppers stripped grocery stores of provisions, in particular the bread and milk staples. Sliced Pans were in huge demand and empty bread shelves were the order of the day in shops in Boherbue, Newmarket and Kanturk as staff frantically restocked as quickly as they could. 

With the 4pm lock down time fast approaching on Thursday, people mounted an extra drive to fill up their cupboards before shops closed their doors. 

On Thursday morning, traffic was congested and queues at tills in Kanturk were surreal with one man joking that it was "as bad as three Christmases put together".

Several shops got into the spirit of things by playing numbers such as 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' and 'Frosty the Snowman'. 

Meanwhile, the run on fuel was unprecedented across the country and The Corkman spoke to John Casey of Casey Fencing and Fuels at Allensbridge, Newmarket, who said his large stocks of coal, timber and briquettes were "cleaned out". 

Many were expecting the storm to begin at 4pm but it was around 9pm before the Beast began to batter North Cork.

On Friday morning people woke to an eerie calm with bumper snow falls and an almost complete absence of traffic except for a few hardy souls who essentially had the roads to themselves.

The Araglen River at Clamper Cross in Ballydesmond was completely frozen over and farmers all over the area were out and about trying to free out frozen water pipes and clear passages to enable them to take fodder to their cattle. 

The inability of trucks to travel for milk collection and the increasing worry of fodder shortages were also worrying issues for many. 

But every cloud has a silver lining and the children and young at heart adults were out in the thick of it constructing chirpy looking snowmen, spacious igloos and all manner of ingenious snow sculptures. 

Locals in Western Duhallow were vocal in their praise of Kelly Brothers and their staff who worked from 6am until 10pm for several days clearing snow drifts from roads and passages within a ten mile radius of Ballydesmond. 

People called in to their neighbours for a chat and a cuppa and essentially looked out for each other in a warm hearted manner that highlighted the wonderful community spirit that is the hallmark of Irish people everywhere.