A Very Slippy Christmas

It wasn’t so much a White Christmas as an Ice Christmas. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. As a country, we’re obviously not very used to dealing with serious ice, but what I saw on the 23rd and 24th of Christmas was bordering on farce.Slippery Floor Sign
Circumstances had brought the family and I to Navan for bit of last minute shopping, and what should have been a town hit by a retail stampede became more like ‘March of the Penguins’, with people waddling carefully on ice-paved paths (that’s ‘sidewalks’ to all you folks in the States). We saw a number of people fall, as well as one ambulance picking up a woman with a broken arm, while another woman sat off to the side holding a dressing to a bleeding head wound. Apparently the accident and emergency department were very busy with broken bones over that week. No doubt lawsuits will quickly follow.
Even so, I couldn’t resist launching into a slide along a path from time to time.
All across the country, councils discovered they had not stocked enough grit to even cover the main roads, No Grit on Roadsso driving became very interesting, as thin layers of ice reduced our roads to toboggan runs. It’s good to know that now that they’re broke, the last of the councils’ money will be used paying off all the people who are likely to sue for falling on their asses, or spinning their cars off icy tarmac. I can only imagine what it’s like for people who have come here from countries where they have real cold and they see us unable to deal with a cold snap.
I spent a couple of weeks in Poland years ago. While walking up in the mountains, I asked my friend what the tall poles were for along the side of the path. She told me they were to make sure people could follow the path when it snowed. Those poles were more than fifteen feet high. And yet a coating of ice brings our country to a halt.
In Canada, they have to plug their cars into the power grid to stop them from freezing. They build some of their city streets underground. They have to put snow tyres on their cars, and sometimes still need to put chains on their tyres. In Sweden, houses are made from wood. They’re cheaper to build, stay warmer in freezing winters and cooler in the summers. In Ireland, we’re still getting our heads around the idea that houses need to be insulated. A couple of inches of snow and we’re declaring the onset of the apocalypse.
Slippery Road SignThinking the worst of the ice was over yesterday, my wife and I decided to take the kids for a walk in the woods near Kingscourt. But we were driving on back roads most of the way, and after a while we had to turn back. It was just too dangerous, and we were too likely to slide off into a ditch, hit another car, or get stuck in the middle of nowhere. I quite like the challenge of driving on ice, but sliding down a steep polished slope in a ton and a half of metal, looking at the tight turn at the bottom is enough to make a fella rethink his priorities.
On the plus side, we went go-carting over the Christmas too. The cold hard tyres on the chilly floor made for some serious lack of traction. It was great craic to slide the carts around those hairpin bends, and I was reminded that, despite all the problems caused by the cold – the relatively minor ones we’re crap at dealing with in Ireland (you know, as if we’ve never seen them before) – at least the kids can have some fun out there . . . and it’s a change from the year of rain we’ve had. And frankly, it’s a delight to see any of kind of snow at Christmas – even if it is nothing but a light sprinkling atop the type of ice that requires the declaration of a national emergency.
Hope you all had a great Christmas. Happy New Year!