The strange allurement of great weather events

Boats bumping about in the water at the Claddagh, Galway, with the Long Walk in the background during Ophelia's tenure in the West on Monday last. PHOTO: HANY MARZOUK.
Boats bumping about in the water at the Claddagh, Galway, with the Long Walk in the background during Ophelia's tenure in the West on Monday last. PHOTO: HANY MARZOUK.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was an erudite solicitor, called Jim Hession who, back in my Tuam Herald days that I used give an odd lift to back from Headford Court (with an odd pit-stop along the way), as a particular physical disability prevented him from driving.

He had a brilliant legal mind, but at the local district court of the time that wasn’t always an advantage, as the judges of the time didn’t like anyone being smarter or funnier than themselves.

In contested civil cases, Jim Hession had the habit of unnerving his legal opponent by throwing in little mischievous comments half under his breath as they made their case before the learned judge.

During one of those exchanges, the opposing solicitor complained to the judge that: “Mr. Hession is interrupting my train of thought,” which immediately drew the reply of: “Well there’s a lot of empty carriages on that train,” before the court ended up in convulsions of laughter.

Whether ‘Old Hession’ won that case or not, I do not know, but last Monday morning, as we were all advised to return safely to our homes before we felt the full wrath of Ophelia, I recalled the same man telling me of how he enjoyed spectacular weather events such as great storms

One of the weather phenomena that he relished most was a thunderstorm in the middle of the night with all lights off. The skies lighting up, followed by booms of thunder, was one of those ‘pleasures’ in life that he would never miss out on because of sleep.

Curiously enough on Monday morning last, I kind of felt the same way about the arrival of Ophelia. Of course, there are the downsides of power outages, falling trees and work disruption, but nature at its wildest does bring with it a kind of strange allurement.

Where storms have led to loss of lives — and sadly this week three families are bereaved — there is no such sentimental attachment, but the visit of Ophelia on Monday, October 16, 2017, bridged a 56-year-gap, since a real hurricane arrived before to our shores.

That was of course Debbie on Saturday, September 16, 1961, a weather system having many similarities to Ophelia, in that instead of tracking westward towards the Caribbean and the East Coast of America, it instead did something of an unexpected U-turn, taking aim for Ireland and Scotland.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.