Valentia: not the place to be for an April camping holiday

The Valentia Met Éireann station in Co. Kerry. Photo: Courtesty Met Éireann.
The Valentia Met Éireann station in Co. Kerry. Photo: Courtesty Met Éireann.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

MAY Day arrived with something of a vengeance last week, as if to remind us that we weren’t finished just quite yet as regards our weather woes.  Being inside for most of the day, staring rather robotically into a computer screen, I hadn’t quite grasped how wet it had been, until I went to venture home for the evening fodder.

Anyway, in my innocence, the following evening – Wednesday, May 2, a quite benign day – I took a notion that two of my ‘drier fields’ could do with a ‘tip of the roller’ to smooth out the hoof marks that had been there since the late Autumn.

Luckily enough, the lift was on the roller, as halfway across the field, I could hear a pretty noticeable squelch from the under the wheels of my ageing but loyal Massey, and the penny dropped that our fields are still very much saturated.

With the longest day of the year now just around six weeks away, we might be forgiven for nurturing just a little sense of expectation that the wellies would not have to be worn all the time, but really it has been one rough ride since last July or August.

IFA tillage guru, John Daly, probably summed it up to me a couple of weeks back when he remarked that, ‘the weather was broken since The Races of last year and we wouldn’t feel until they were with us again’.

It really has been that kind of year and yet compared to our country cousins down in places like Moore Park in Cork or Valentia in Kerry, we haven’t done too badly through the month of April.

In terms of Irish weather forecasting, it’s birthplace really is Valentia Island since it was first used in October, 1860, under our days of British rule, to carry out ‘real time’ weather observations.

The Brits – whatever else we may think of them ‘were no flats’ – and realised that the south-west tip of Ireland was where the Atlantic weather systems and storms first hit land before traversing the mainlands further east.

In 1868, the observatory was officially set up on the and it remained there until 1892, when it moved to the mainland close to the town of Caherciveen, and it eventually from British hands to the Irish Met Service in 1937.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.