UNEXPECTED SNOW 1 MARCH 2024
If we wait for the ‘luck of the Irish’ to protect us from extreme weather events, we might end in a bad way.
What stands out when there is snow in the area where I live is the reaction and initial delight of those who have never encountered snow before.
I have lived in Sweden three times over a period of fifty years and have experience of “real” snow. And one thing that I have noticed is that outside sounds are often very much attenuated. So I when wakened this morning in Dublin I noticed a certain quietness and immediately I knew that it must have snowed and that I needed to arise and capture some images. Maybe I could find a real snowman … I did and I have photographs to prove it.
I decided to use an iPhone 12 Pro Max rather any of my go-to cameras as there was a strong possibility that I would slip and fall. My Sony A7RIV already misbehaves on a regular basis because of two serious falls that I had within a few of my purchase of the body from Conns Cameras.
Upon returning to my apartment I checked online to see how the citizens of Dublin had reacted to the unexpected weather and I came across a report from which I have reproduced a short extract below:
“Ireland’s Weather: No Longer Just the Luck of the Irish?”
“Remember that snow in March? It seems every time the weather takes a turn here in Ireland, we’re left scrambling. But is it just bad luck, or are these surprises becoming the new normal? Met Éireann themselves were caught off guard by the recent snowfall, suggesting something more serious might be happening with our weather patterns.”
I must admit that I am not a fan of the expression “Luck Of The Irish” but, depending on context, its use does not bother me. This is discussed below in a bit more detail.
Is Climate Change the Culprit?
While we can’t blame every unusual weather event on global warming, the data is starting to tell a concerning story. Reports indicate a rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme events like heatwaves and intense rainfall. Climate projections for Ireland suggest a future of wetter winters, hotter summers, and the potential for more destructive storms.
The days of mild, predictable weather might be behind us. We could be facing:
Disrupted Agriculture: Farming has always been tied to Ireland’s weather, but changing patterns may affect crop yields and what we can even grow.
Coastal Challenges: Rising sea levels and storm surges threaten our beautiful coastline and those living in these areas.
Infrastructure Strain: Are our roads, drainage systems, and buildings sturdy enough to handle increased flooding and storms?
Are We Prepared?
The truth is, Ireland seems to be constantly reacting to weather emergencies rather than proactively preparing for them. We need to ask ourselves:
Are our homes and businesses resilient?
Do we have emergency plans ready?
Are our government and infrastructure truly equipped?
It’s Time to Adapt
Mitigating climate change is crucial, but it’s not enough. We need to invest in adapting our infrastructure, strengthening our emergency response systems, and raising awareness within our communities. Maybe a little less talk about the luck of the Irish and a lot more focus on preparing for an uncertain future. After all, the best way to predict the future is to plan for it.
HERE IN IRELAND WE ONLY HAVE ONE WORD FOR SNOW
I decided to fact check my opening claim and here is the response:
Absolutely! Your basic claim that snow significantly dampens outdoor sounds holds true. Let’s dive into the science behind this phenomenon:
Why Snow Makes Things Quieter:
Porous Structure: Snowflakes have a complex structure with lots of air pockets. Sound waves get trapped and scattered within the snow, losing energy and reducing their reach.
Soft Surface: Unlike hard surfaces like concrete or pavement, freshly fallen snow doesn’t reflect sound waves well. This further diminishes sound propagation.
Insulation: Snow creates a layer of insulation over the ground that further absorbs and reduces environmental noise.
Why Your Experience in Sweden is Relevant:
“Real” snow: Sweden likely experiences a greater quantity and fluffier snow compared to Ireland, making this sound-dampening effect much more noticeable.
Prior Sensitisation: Having become familiar with the hush that comes with snow in Sweden, your senses may be more attuned to the same aural change back in Ireland, even if the snowfall is less intense.
Type of Snow: Light, fluffy snow is the best sound muffler. Wet, heavy snow or melting snow will have less of an impact.
Surrounding Environment: In an urban area, even with fresh snow, you’ll still have an underlying level of noise that might make it less noticeable.
Overall: Your observation aligns with established acoustic principles. Snow indeed acts as a natural sound suppressor, and a prior experience with heavier snowfall would make you more likely to pick up on this change.
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH
Here’s a breakdown of why the phrase “luck of the Irish” receives mixed reactions in Ireland, and how its meaning has indeed shifted throughout history and across cultures:
Reasons for Dislike within Ireland:
Origin as Sarcasm: Historically, the phrase was not coined by the Irish, but likely by people who were envious successful Irish miners in the US during the Gold Rush. It carried a sarcastic undertone, suggesting their success was due to luck rather than skill or hard work. This negative origin story colours its perception for many Irish people.
Perpetuating Stereotypes: For some, the phrase reduces complex accomplishments to “luck,” potentially reinforcing a stereotype of the Irish as being undeserving of success.
Dismissal of Hardship: The history of Ireland is marked by struggle, famine, and oppression. To attribute any success solely to luck can feel dismissive of the resilience and determination that shaped the nation.
Positive Connotation (US): Outside of Ireland, the phrase has evolved to imply a more positive “luck of the draw” interpretation. The focus is less on its origins and more on the idea of good fortune. It’s often used lightheartedly and even embraced commercially (think Lucky Charms cereal).
The UK Perspective: The understanding of the phrase in the UK is likely influenced by proximity to Ireland. You’ll find a mixture of both those who are aware of its potentially offensive origins and those who use it casually.
The Changing Meaning over Time:
The “luck of the Irish” is a prime example of how language and perception shift through time and cross cultural boundaries.
Initial: Started as a veiled insult.
Meaning Diluted and Adopted: Lost its sting for many and gained positive associations.
Irish Pushback: In recent years, there’s been a push within Ireland to reclaim the narrative around the phrase and highlight the negativity in how it’s sometimes used.
Important Note: It is key to be sensitive to the fact that many Irish people have a complicated relationship with this phrase. While it might be intended playfully, there’s often a deeper historical context to consider.
Perhaps it’s time we retire this phrase and focus on the very real preparation and resilience Ireland needs in the face of climate change.