Tralee escapes worst of Emma and the Beast

Town shut down and shop shelves were emptied ahead of last week's Storm Emma white out

Simon Brouder

Tralee escaped the worst ravages of last week's freezing weather but there was still huge disruption around the town on Friday.

While much of Thursday had remained relatively mild - in comparison with the freezing conditions across much of the rest of the country - temperatures on Thursday night plunged as low as minus six in the early hours of Friday morning.

The predicted blizzard conditions didn't hit until around 11pm on Thursday night - well after the Government's 4pm deadline to clear the streets. Tralee awoke under a blanket of snow on Friday in a period in which between 5cm and 7cm of snow fell on the town.

Higher outlying areas around the town were blanketed in heavy drifts of snowfall with some hilly areas around Listellick, Farmers Bridge and on the road to Abbeydorney covered in up to a foot of snow.

With the majority of the town enjoyed a 'snow day' off work it wasn't long before families were out in their gardens to enjoy the unusual Christmasy conditions.

By lunch time most estates seemed to contain as many snowmen as residents and snow ball fights were taking place all over town.

While travelling any great distance outside town was nigh on impossible Kerry County Council did an exceptional job clearing and gritting the roads and paths in the town itself. By lunch time there was little difficulty in getting around the town either on foot or in a car.

Though there wasn't much activity outside the estates on Friday morning by early afternoon the town centre was returning to normality as many businesses that had dropped their shutters on Thursday began to reopen.

It should be said that while many smaller shops and businesses did reopen on Friday the incredible levels of panic-buying witnessed in the previous days meant there was very little stock to be had.

Lidl was the only major supermarket to reopen on Friday - to the obvious relief of shoppers - and it was Saturday before most other large retailers opened their doors.

If there was one real gripe around town it was over the borderline apocalyptic Government weather warnings which saw schools closed and most of the town centre shut down by lunchtime on Thursday, some nine hours before the first heavy snow began to fall.

It's obviously better to be safe than sorry but several business owners said they'd like to see more accurate regional warnings issued the next time the weather takes a nasty turn.

Thank you to all who worked to keep Kerry open

When one looks at the images from across the rest of the country there is little doubt that Kerry escaped the worst of last week's freezing weather.

That, however, does not lessen the hard work and dedication of the many men and women who worked round the clock and braved horrendous conditions to keep our county up and running.

While most of us were safely tucked up in our homes, hundreds of civil defence and emergency team volunteers were out in the snow doing all in their power to keep their communities safe.

Meanwhile, the emergency services were out in force, working in dreadful conditions, and ensuring that, despite the dreadful weather, no part of the county was left unprotected and unguarded.

In our hospitals staff worked around the clock with many staff staying in or near their place of work to make sure services could be provided at as close to normal levels as possible.

Council and ESB staff were also out in force from the early hours of Friday morning, working to clear tonnes of snow from the county's roads and to make sure power was flowing in all homes.

Their workload was enormous and they deserve immense credit for their selfless - and no doubt enormously draining - efforts.

From everyone at The Kerryman, thank you all.