Hi Everyone. I hope I find you all well. So last weekend the snow came, blanketing much of the country. Unlike many of our American cousins, we don’t get a lot of snow in Ireland. According to the experts at Met Eireann (the Irish National Meteorological Service), we can expect around 2cm of snow countrywide every 2 years! So when the snow does fall, it’s quite an exciting event, especially for the little ones! Check out a couple of the younger members of The Irish Store Family enjoying the first fall at the weekend.
The average number of days with snow in Ireland ranges from 5 in the southwest to 24 in the north midlands. Our deepest snowfall in recent times was recorded in the winter of 1962/63 at Casement Aerodrome in county Dublin. This came in at a whopping 45cm! Small fry I’m sure for many of you in the US.
But when it does come, there’s no denying how beautiful the country looks, especially some of our best loved landmarks. So put on your favorite Aran sweater, curl up and lets take a trip through an Irish winter wonderland.
Snow In Ireland
1. Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery
First up we’re off to a truly magical spot in my favorite County Sligo. Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery consists of 14 cairns dating back to 3500 BC. They are situated in the south of the county dotted along the summits of the Bricklieve Mountains. Carrowkeel forms part of a line of 4 major neolithic passage tomb sites stretching from County Sligo in the west to the Brú na Bóinne (Boyne Valley Tombs) in County Meath in the east which includes Irelands’ famous Newgrange monument.
2. Croagh Patrick
With it’s unmistakable peak, Croagh Patrick looks like something from the Swiss Alps with it’s blanket of snow. Situated 5 miles from the town of Westport in county Mayo, Croagh Patrick stands at 2057 feet. The story goes that it was from this very place that St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. It is also claimed that he fasted here for 40 days. It remains a place of pilgrimage to this day with people gathering to follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s patron saint on the last Sunday of July. Some pilgrims even choose to complete the climb bare-footed! Definitely not recommended in the snow-dusted winter months!
3. Ashford Castle
Staying in county Mayo, we head south to Cong and the magnificent Ashford Castle. The Anglo-Norman house of Burke were the first to build a castle on this site in 1228. The estate was bought by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness in 1852 and remained in Guinness hands until the family gifted it to the Irish government in 1939. Today it boasts being one of The Leading Hotels of The World and has hosted a memorable roll call of guests including John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara(the grounds of the castle were a location for “The Quiet Man”), Oscar Wilde and Princess Grace to name but a few. I think you’ll agree the dusting of snow on this stunning building adds to it’s fairy tale charm.
4. The Mourne Mountains
Time to head up north to county Down and the stunning Mountains of Mourne. Slieve Donard is the highest of the mountain range at 2790 feet and from certain points on clear day the eye can see as far as the Lake District in England as well as Snowdonia in Wales. The Mournes also provided the inspiration for the Narnia tales by C.S.Lewis and when you see them blanketed in snow you can definitely see why.
5. Mussenden Temple
Travelling even further north now to Castlerock in county Derry and the magical Mussenden Temple. Perched on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it was built in 1785 by Lord Bristol as a summer library. It commands stunning views of this beautiful part of the country. I don’t know about curling up with a book there in the depths of winter though!
6. Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary is also known as St. Patrick’s Rock (Carraig Phádraig). Legend has it that the rock landed here when St.Patrick banished Satan from a cave at Devil’s Bit mountain. The story goes that the devil took a bite out of the mountain and spat the rock to it’s current location! The Rock of Cashel is also the place where it is claimed St Patrick converted the King of Munster. Indeed it was the seat of the of high kings of Munster for centuries until the Norman invasion. The blanket of snow only adds to its mystique.
7. Powerscourt Gardens
Our final stop is county Wicklow and the centerpiece of The Garden of Ireland, Powerscourt Estate and Gardens. These stunning gardens date back to 1731 and cover 47 acres. They have also been voted #3 in National Geographic’s Top 10 gardens in the world. This is my favorite spot in the Italian Garden where you get a gorgeous view of the Sugarloaf Mountain. And how pretty does it look when covered in snow!
Thanks for dropping by. Take care of yourselves and each other. Stay warm and cozy!
Slán go fóill!