Past Health & Weather Records Reviewed

Autumn months according to our National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann, are September, October and November, however according to our Irish Gaelic traditional Calendar, autumn constitutes the months August, September, and October.  Harvest or ‘Fall,’ was the term usually used rurally to refer to autumn  and came to refer only to the actual activity of reaping crops sown.


Great Comet of 1577.

Whatever month autumn begins, August brings into focus thoughts of future winter weather, flu epidemics and hopes of general well being. Generally these thoughts are based on our own previous experiences of health issues or unprecedented winter conditions experienced during our own lifetimes.

So what awaited past Irish generations before modern day scientists came up with the theory of ‘Global Warming.’ ?
Let’s take a look at what history has recorded in Ireland between the years 1178 and 1603 with regard to health and unusual occurring weather.

1178(Four years after the Battle of Thurles and the same year Donal O’Fogarty, Bishop of Ossory, died.)  A great wind this year by which many trees were uprooted and many churches laid prostrate.  Some 120 trees fell at Derry Columkille.  The river of Galway dried up for several days so that things lost in it from time immemorial were recovered, great quantities of fish were taken by the inhabitants.
1224.  An awful and strange shower fell in Connaught and there followed diseases in cattle, and those who drank their milk got extraordinary internal diseases.
1236.  Great storms and rain and violent wars prevailed this year.
1252.  A great heat and drought this summer, so that people passed over the principal rivers with dry feet and trees became ignited with the heat of the sun.
1326.  Small-pox raged though Ireland and great numbers died.
1328.  According to Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters, an awful thunder and lightning occurred by which vegetation and fruit were extensively damaged and corn blighted. An epidemic disease called Slaodan (Translated. influenza) prevailed, and continued for four days on those afflicted with it, and proved almost fatal to them.
1329.  Crops remained un-reaped until after Michaelmas, (Michaelmas derives its name from the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, which falls annually on 29 September 29th), in consequence of wet weather.
1349.  A great plague in Ireland particularly in Moylurg (Magh Luirg  Roscommon North east of the province of Connacht ); an immense number died of it.
1383.  An awful and very fatal plague raged throughout Ireland.  Judith, daughter of the Earl of Ormond, the wife of Teige O’Carroll, lord of Tigh Muna (Timoney, near Roscrea, Co Tipperary) and the daughter of O’Brien, wife of O’Kennedy died of the plague.

1433.   A famine in the summer of this year which was designated “The Summer of Slight Acquaintance,” for a long time afterwards, for no one could recognise a friend or relative on account of the greatness of the famine.
1435.  An extraordinary frost and ice this year, which was so intense that the people were enabled to travel over all the lakes and rivers of Ireland on the ice.
1439.  A plague which raged most violently in Dublin, where 3000 died from the beginning of spring to the end of May. It continued int1440.
1447.  A great plague raged in the summer and Harvest (Autumn); some say that 700 priests died of it.
1448.  A great plague in Meath the next year.
1451.  A most surprising occurrence happened a year before the death of the 4th Earl of Ormond, James Butler, Lord Justice of Ireland with the river Liffey drying up for the space of 2 miles.
1471.  Showers of hailstones fell in the month of May, accompanied with lightning and thunder which destroyed the blossoms and fruit, and each stone measured 2 to 3 inches and they inflicted great wounds and sores on those who were struck by them.
1477.  A great wind on night of the feast of St. John Baptist, which destroyed an immense deal of stone and wooden buildings, of  Crannogs (fortresses on lakes) and corn stacks.  A great Plague was imported by a ship which entered Ballyshannon port, and the pestilence spread throughout Ulster and did much destruction.  A great plague raged throughout Ireland.  An awful wind on Xmas night which proved a destructive night to many from the number of persons and cattle that perished; trees, buildings, and ships were destroyed on land and water throughout Ireland.
1486.   March, violent tempests and torrents of rain.
1488.   A wonderful child was born in Dublin who had teeth at birth, and grew to an enormous size, that so large a child was not heard of since the time of the heroes.
1490.  An eruption of the earth took place on Sliabh Gamh (Ox Mountains in Sligo) in which 100 persons perished, and many cows and horses were destroyed; and a large quantity of putrid fish was cast up by eruption in the Lough Easkey, whence its name, (Latter Irish taken from the word ‘Iascaigh,’ meaning “abounding in fish,“). Easkey, as a parish, was originally called “Imleach Iseal.” (Latter Irish Translation; ‘Low land verging on the water.’)
1491.  In December a blazing star or comet appeared in the sky and continued many months and a pestilence soon followed. Violent tempests and torrents of rain doing great damage and in latter year it was impossible to save corn and a great dearth ensured.
1492.  An uncommon plague raged in Meath (Pláigh Allais,) which was known by the appellation of “24 hours plague,” as those who got it and passed that period recovered, and neither children nor infants took it. (Probably the English sweating sickness, possibly Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, transmission to humans by mice excreta, through solid or liquid particles being dispersed or suspended in the air and inhaled by humans.) This malady was never seen again in England after 1578.  A continued drought dried up rivers and springs and multitudes of cattle died; and famine and pestilence broke out.
1497.   An awful famine in Ireland in this and following year 1498, so that people ate food which is not fit to be mentioned and such was never served on dishes for human beings.
1523.  Dreadful plagues.
1525.  Dreadful plagues.
1528.  A great wind on Friday before Xmas destroyed many trees, stone and wooden buildings, and the wall of the monastery of Donegal, many ships swept away and sunk. The Sweating Sickness again visited Ireland; all but the English were supposed to be immune from it.
1536.  Many diseases and distempers raged this year, viz; a general plague, the Galar breac (Small Pox), the flux and fever of which many died.
1541.  Boisterous and excessively stormy weather, both frost and snow in the beginning of the year, which prevented tillage and ploughing from being properly performed throughout Ireland.
1545.   A great famine so that 6 pence old money was paid for the loaf of bread in Connaught, and 6 silver pennies in Meath.
1547.  A great wind arose on the night before the feast of St Bridget (31th Jan.) and it is doubtful if so great occurred since the Birth of Christ; churches, monasteries and castles destroyed, and 2 west wings of Clonmacnoise.
1572.  A great mortality among men and cattle.
1574.  An extraordinary shower of hail on Kalends of May; (Kalends or Calends ; first days of each month of the Roman calendar) strongly built residences were swept away by it; corn crops were left bare without stalk or blade; and it left blue lumps as large as hail-stones on the legs of those who were struck.
1575.  Great heat and extreme drought in the summer and no rain from May to August.  Loathsome diseases and afflicting maladies, namely a plague, especially in Dublin, Naas etc. leaving many a castle without a guard, a flock without a shepherd, and many bodies even of nobility left unburied.
1577.  A wonderful star appeared in the 1st month of winter from which extended a long sloping tail. (Not Halley’s Comet; a Comet did appeared in 1533, 1607 and 1682 which was  predicted by English Astronomer Edmond Halley, (1656-1742) to appear again in 1758. The comet appeared as predicted and has been called Halley’s Comet ever since.)
1582.  Great wind with constant rain, stormy weather and excessive dearth prevailed for 2 successive years.  This year remarkable for large nuts.
1585.  A great quantity of rain fell this year and the greater part of the corn crop was destroyed.
1587.  Wet weather, unproductive corn, a great deal of nuts in this year.
1603.  An excessive famine took place throughout Ireland.

What will the remainder of 2013 and the year 2014 now bring us health and weather-wise I wonder?


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