Trying to survive the ‘legendary’ Irish weather…

The Irish weather is a thing of legend worldwide. Along with the stereotype of always being drunk, we are apparently also always getting rained on. It rains many more days than I am drunk, that much I do know…

After an unseasonably dry and warm October, November has hit us hard with storm after storm landing without any let up. For me personally this is particularly difficult as I am juggling hoses with looking after my little boy, farming a suckler herd of cattle and running a haulage business with my husband. Bad weather means cattle have to come in, the arena is permanently flooded, the roads are dangerous and the child is housebound. It’s hard to believe how exhausting this combination of factors actually is……

Even the most civilised horse will become a raving maniac in the high winds and it gets all the more alarming in the winter. At this time of year, horses in work are generally clipped. A clipped horse in high winds creates a real dilemma – you want to keep the horse warm, but using a quarter sheet can descend into a scene from Ali Baba and his flying carpet.

Jumping fences is mostly best avoided, as fences that keep blowing down as you approach them is probably very confusing for the horse – four faults for looking at the jump? That just seems excessive…

Schooling on the flat is a waste of everybody’s time although it can be excellent for practicing things like medium canter or passage (assuming you didn’t put on that pesky quarter sheet) and hacking will descend into total anarchy. The horse walker will turn into a windmill and turning horses out is like something out of The Wizard Of Oz.

Relentless rain will quell the enthusiasm of even the most diehard equine fanatic. There is nothing more miserable than being wet to your underwear taking care of and working your ungrateful equine. Horses are desperate to get out of their stables, yet once they find out that it’s now rainy season in Vietnam they immediately want to come in again. You bring them in and they want out again. Sigh.

Sometimes it’s just better to abandon ship.…..bad weather looks better from the fireside with a well-earned glass of vino and a bit of Coronation Street, unless of course the weather forecast comes on in which case my advice is change channel. These days it’s less distressing being surprised than it is having to be prepared. I get through it by fantasising about holidays in Barbados and clearing Aldi out of their winter clothing.

Ireland is particularly difficult as weather goes, because we don’t really have obvious seasons. Where many countries have a predictable four season rotation, we have the following four seasons without a quarterly pattern:

Snow and rain (aka Spring, lasts approx two months), warmer rain with grass growth and occasional sunshine (aka summer, lasts approximately five minutes), windy and raining (aka Autumn, lasts about five weeks) and finally as a grand finale comes wind, rain, snow, ice, hail, sleet, more wind, sideways rain, upside down rain, round corners rain and occasional thunderstorms (aka winter, lasts approximately nine months which is also known as FOR POXING EVER).

What I find incredible is that we have a thriving tourism industry thanks to the stereotypical ‘soft weather’. A recent trip to the west of Ireland had more Americans per square yard than it did mountain ewes and they LOVED it – they went off sightseeing every day in their cagoules and positively rejoiced in the sideways monsoon they found themselves in. Crazy. Anyway. I suppose they aren’t jaundiced from changing their clothes eighteen times a day and trying to push full wheelbarrows across windy yards and trying to handle apparently tame, feral animals…..

Wrap up warm, folks.



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