The Night Thread of The Big Wind (October 15, 2020)

This year’s hurricane season is more active and powerful than most, and I hope that every Avocado affected stays safe and well. Tonight I thought I would take a look at Ireland’s worst storm on record, which took place on 6 January 1839 and became known as Oíche na Gaoithe Móire – the “Night of the Big Wind.”

Whilst most of the eight-million strong population of the island prepared for Little Christmas during the day, the Feast of the Epiphany, the weather, by accounts, was eerily calm and quiet. The storm that was developing in the mid-Atlantic region, unseen and unlooked for, grew more violent as its associated depression moved up along the north west coast later in the night, bringing terror and destruction to the whole island.

Oíche na Gaoithe Móire

In the aftermath, the Dublin Evening Post reported: “Ireland has been the chief victim of the hurricane. Every part of Ireland – every field, every town, every village in Ireland have felt its dire effects, from Galway to Dublin, from the Giant’s Causeway to Valencia. It has been, we repeat it, the most awful calamity with which a people were afflicted.”

Meanwhile the Evening Mail painted Dublin – where a quarter of all the houses were reportedly destroyed – in an apocalyptic light: “Houses burning , others unroofed, as if by storm of shot and shell; a few levelled with the ground, with all their furniture within; while the rattling of engines, cries of firemen, and labours of the military, present the very aspect and mimicry of real war.”

There’s no accurate account of how many people died across the country that night – it’s been variously stated as from dozens to many hundreds – and 42 ships were wrecked.

Oíche na Gaoithe Móire

Stay safe and take care of yourselves, everyone!