Ireland’s Arctic Siege: the Big Freeze of 1947.
A new book was published today that may interest historians of the twentieth-century climate. The publisher’s description: “on 19 January 1947 Ireland was invaded by a freakish anticyclonic weather phenomenon that lasted for two months. The arctic siege brought freezing temperatures of -14 Centigrade (7F), a piercing east wind reaching 60 70 m.p.h., five major blizzards, and snowdrifts of 12 to 20 feet some topping 50. Cars, buses, houses and entire villages were buried, roads were blocked, telephone and electricity lines felled and towns and farms isolated as food and fuel dwindled. Tragically this happened amidst the worst fuel crisis in Irelands history. People were forced to strip wood from their homes, and nearly half of all Dubliners were burning furniture to survive. By 19 February 1947 Dublins death rate had more than doubled as the poor and elderly succumbed to hunger, cold and illness. Kevin C. Kearns presents a graphic account of what was regarded as a near-biblical calamity of blizzards, freezing, hunger, floods and threatened famine. This is a vivid tale of suffering and courage, death and survival, of human resilience and real heroism, poignantly authenticated by the oral testimony of those who lived through the arctic siege.”