Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



big freeze
The headline in the Irish Times today* (“Cold snap on the way”) gave me a good laugh. Temperatures in the northwest have been well below zero for over a week now. It’s the biggest freeze anyone can remember. The fields are covered in snow. The lakes are frozen. The roads, where the snow has compacted, frozen, thawed briefly and frozen again many times over, now resemble ice rinks. N17 aside, Mayo County Council still haven’t salted the roads. I’m not a man to tell anybody how to do their jobs. But fucks sake lads, get your act together. You’d want to be Torvill and Dean out here.

On Stephen’s Day, my mother and I tried to drive to Claremorris to buy food. About a mile outside of town, we realised we wouldn’t make it and decided to turn back. In the process of turning the car around, we got stuck in front of the house of a well known local character. Let’s just say, if this fella had seen us in his driveway, he was coming out with a shotgun or not at all.

I tried to give it a push, but I couldn’t even stand up straight, let alone get sufficient leverage to move the car. I ended up kicking the ice in the ditch to try and find pebbles or dirt or anything I could use to throw on the ground to give the wheels traction. When that didn’t work, I called my friend Ollie. He and his father came in the van and dug us out, fair play to them.

Even walking in these conditions is fraught with danger. Our house is only a short distance from town, but the road is covered in about two inches of ice. So, walking per se is impossible. The only way to navigate the ice is to slide across it. This is a tricky enough manoeuvre to accomplish sober. After a few jars, its nigh on impossible. On the way home Stephen’s Night my friends and I clutched the walls, trees and each other for support, but still fell over numerous times.

My sisters arrived home shortly after me, with similar stories. At about 3.30am, I was ready to turn in when our back door opened and a young lad, a neighbour who lives about a mile further out the road, landed in. He’d just fallen face first in the ice. His eyebrow was now in two separate parts, with a wide trench of blood and torn flesh running right through the middle. His sister and another friend of ours, both doctors, were with him. But there was feck all they could do.

I gave him one of Lola’s mush dinners from the freezer to put on his eye, hoping to keep down the swelling. But he clearly needed six or seven stitches, and there wasn’t a hope in hell of getting him to a hospital, right then or in even in the morning. All the beds in our house were already occupied by family members and assorted refugees, so I put him on a fold-out bed in our old play room with a few sheets of kitchen roll under his head. The poor guy. I saw him in the car the next day, it wasn’t pretty.

Yesterday afternoon a sheet of ice slid off my Granny’s roof. She thought a car had crashed outside. It was pure luck there wasn’t anyone walking past. They could have been seriously injured or worse.

So that’s the news from Mayo. Not that its of any significance or anything. For those of you living in that portion of the country where events occur, and they have consequences and so forth, there’s apparently a cold snap on the way. You should probably watch out for that. It could be nasty.

[* Wrote this yesterday, but broadband went out before I could post it. Today’s Irish Times shows a pretty pissy amount of snow in Fairview Park. Apparently there’s a cold snap underway. Well I’ll be damned…]

December 29th, 2009.

5 Responses to “BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Christ almighty. I have to admit I nearly rolled on the floor laughing when I read the headline on the RTE website about a week ago: “Temperatures Plummet to Minus Four Overnight”. It was minus 20 here a few days before, and we’d had 70cms of snow within a week. But I suppose it’s different when a country is so hideously ill-prepared for it.

    Winter tyres? Snow chains? Yak Traks? Is it actually possible to buy any of those things in Ireland?

  2. Eoin Says:

    Well I suppose in fairness, you are talking about two completely different things. If I bought snow chains for my car now we’d probably all be on hoverboards by the time I needed them again!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Yeah totally, this isn’t meant to be a sly dig or anything.

  4. Eoin Says:

    Lisa, I’m getting sick of your constant sly digs. There’s only so many sly digs a man can take…

    Only joking… I didn’t think it was!


  5. Eoin Says:

    Damnit, I thought I was looking rather dapper there…

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