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The Big Snow of 1982: Snowbound lamb developed a taste for whiskey after being rescued

Cllr Mary Kavanagh recalls her encounter with a little lamb during the snow of 1982


Cllr Mary Kavanagh bottle fed a baby lamb she found stranded during the heavy snowfall of 1982.

Cllr Mary Kavanagh bottle fed a baby lamb she found stranded during the heavy snowfall of 1982.

Cllr Mary Kavanagh bottle fed a baby lamb she found stranded during the heavy snowfall of 1982.


MOST of County Wicklow came to a standstill during the height of the Big Snow in 1982, with massive snow drifts causing chaos throughout the country.

Councillor Mary Kavanagh recalls the mayhem caused by the heavy and prolonged snow fall and in particular remembers an encounter with a new born lamb who ended up becoming a bit too fond of some whiskey which was added to its milk to help warm it up.

Mary was in her early twenties at the time and was working at Blainroe Estate. She first encountered the stranded lamb while walking back home from work to Wicklow town, accompanied by a work colleague.

“I had ever seen snow drifts quite like it,” recounts Mary.

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“It was pretty treacherous getting around the place. We were walking home when we both thought we hard something like a cry. We listened more closely and discovered a new born lamb in the field all by itself. All the other lambs and sheep had been brought in but this lone lamb was accidently left behind in the field. It was tiny and we knew it would die if we left it there so I picked it up and carried it home with me.”

Mary’s niece had just been born and she used a baby bottle belonging to her to feed the lamb, adding a bit of whiskey to the milk to warm the animal up.

“My mother didn’t drink but she went out and bought a little baby bottle of whiskey, which we placed in the milk. We had the lamb for a couple of days and were trying to return it to the farmer. There wasn’t any social media or Facebook at the time so trying to contact the farmer proved difficult. We managed to get the word out and the farmer called the house and later on came to the house to collect the lamb.”

Mary thought that would be the last she would hear of the little lamb, but she ended up having another encounter with the farmer, who explained the lamb appeared to have gotten a taste for whiskey whilst staying at the Kavanagh household.

“The farmer said he could tell we had bottle fed the lamb by the way it tried to feed from its mother. He also said that the lamb appeared to be very fond of the whiskey added to the milk because it hadn’t taken to its mother’s milk at all. It didn’t seem to want its mother’s milk because it was missing the whiskey. I don’t know how long the lamb’s fancy for a tipple lasted but at least the whiskey kept it warm.”