When my friends and I first heard of #beastfromtheeast, the massive coldfront hailing from Siberia, we laughed. Most of us are American East Coasters and Midwesterners: anything less than a foot of snow doesn’t really scare us. That’s what snowplows, salt trucks, and shovels are for. We didn’t realize, however, that the whole country was about to shut down.
It’s the first big snow Dublin has seen in about eight years, and supposedly the biggest, coldest snow storm since the eighties. My flatmates and I didn’t expect to ever be snowed-in in Dublin, but this week has been an entertaining look into Ireland’s unique personality.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up to a message from the IES Abroad Center: my first snow day in three years! My flatmates and I finished our midterm essays, cleaned the apartment, and decided to cook dinner for some IES Abroad friends in our building. My flatmate and I set out for the grocery store and discovered that the Irish don’t use salt on their sidewalks, while trekking carefully over a few inches of slushy snow. The grocery store was packed with Dubliners stocking up on milk and bread, worried about an impending shortage from the weather.
That evening, while my friends and I gathered in the living room sharing homemade chicken parmesan, all the shops outside closed down. We ventured out to the pub across the street, its neon sign a beacon in the swirling flakes. One of my friends asked the bartender if they would be open the next night too: he laughed and said, “Of course.”
The snow, however, showed no signs of stopping: my friend’s flight from Italy to Dublin was canceled, and my roommate’s flight to Portugal was canceled twice.
We spent Thursday in the apartment, eating leftovers as newscasters broadcasted red status warnings. From the living room, we watched people in the apartments across the street step out on their balconies, tea in hand, to see the snowfall. Some even built little snowmen on their porches. All the schools were canceled by Met Eireann: we could hear kids playing outside in the courtyard, and watched them laughing and sledding in the yard down the street. For some of them, it might’ve been their first time seeing a real snow.
Friday began much the same: no buses, no shops, no grocery stores. All the Irish photographers I follow online joked about the lack of bread, while companies oriented their ads around the snow and breadless grocery stores.
In the afternoon, I bundled up and ventured a few blocks down to the canal, taking photos of the swans in the snow. Many people were out feeding swans, building snowmen, and having snowball fights. There was even a newscaster near the canal, filming with the swans behind him. Everyone seemed quite happy to be outside despite the cold.
On my way back, I noticed the little grocery store below the apartment was open, and people were flooding in. My roommates and I had to laugh at the sad state of the store without deliveries: no bread, no vegetables, no meat, no eggs, no milk. We walked out with some popcorn and frozen pizzas, and had one more movie night locked in the apartment.
As disappointing as it has been to be cooped up inside all the week, it’s been fun to witness such a unique natural and cultural phenomenon.
They say the Irish love to talk about the weather: people here are out and about rain or shine, paying no mind to constant drizzles or the rare downpour, aside from throwing on a light rain jacket.
It was so strange to see how Dubliners dealt with the cold weather. While everything was taken with a bit of humor, the lack of buses, food deliveries, and closed shops were an almost apocalyptic scene my American friends and I had only seen on television when the snow piles more than six feet high in the coldest places in America. Here, it was both funny and a little concerning to see how a few inches completely disrupted normal life.
While the weather warnings were taken very seriously at first, by Friday many people were out enjoying the snow, even young and elderly couples just taking walks down the street. The yard of the primary school down the road was covered in little snowmen, and I even ran into some of our apartment neighbors having a snowball fight on the roof.
After a few days of being cooped up, all the shops are waking back up and the grocery stores are slowly getting their deliveries. The buses have started on limited schedules, and the snow is clearing off the sidewalks. We did our best to make the most of our days stuck inside. The whole week really taught us about the Irish sense of humor and their ability to poke fun at themselves, even in the face of massive storm and no bread, which is a gift we could all use from time to time.
I can already hear the shopkeepers and my professors this week saying “How about all that snow?”