Yes we have winter in Dublin

If you follow the Tumblr photos in the sidebar of this blog, then you’ve seen a few shots of the snow in Dublin this week. If you’ve visited the Bugle B&B, then you know that there’s a desolate mountain range just south of Dublin. It’s one of my favourite places in Ireland.

It’s still fascinating to this child of the Corn Belt that such an inhospitable area is so close to Dublin, just a few kilometres beyond the suburbs. You can take the urban bus system into the Wicklow Mountains. If you research hillwalking in County Wicklow on the internet, you’ll see plenty of warnings about weather conditions. Those warnings resonated with my wariness of mountainous terrain. And I was not long in Ireland before I saw how quickly a sunny walk along a little trail can turn into a beating administered by a cold, wet wind followed by rain and flooding creeks.

This week, those warnings were completely vindicated, as reported in the Irish Times:

Emergency services also got a call on Tuesday evening to rescue four men trapped in a 4 x 4 vehicles at the Sally Gap. The Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue team was dispatched and made several attempts to access the vehicle, via Laragh, Roundwood and the Wicklow Gap. Snow drifts were so high, however, that the team could not find a way through. They eventually drove to the western side of the mountains and skied out to the men with food and heating equipment. At 8am yesterday, the Coast Guard helicopter at Dublin airport was scrambled and the four people were airlifted to safety. Though suffering from mild hypothermia, they did not need to be hospitalised.

Richard Fleming, one of the men rescued, said he could not distinguish between the roads and the mountains. He told RTÉ radio he abandoned his car to search for a house but was disorientated and came upon two men in a Land Rover. The three men then became trapped and were joined by a fourth who had also abandoned a car. The emergency services kept in contact with them throughout the night and advised them to clear the snow away from their exhaust pipes so the fumes could escape, he said.

Ann Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for the mountain rescue groups, said motorists in the area might have had a false sense of confidence because they were driving 4 x 4 vehicles, but conditions were too severe for them.

Here is a photo from that exact area on a much kinder day in June (with a link to the photoset with more):
View to the southeast

For those who wonder whether they’ve passed the spot with me — if we drove into the Wicklow Mountains, we almost certainly stopped there (the Sally Gap) to take some photos. Here’s the location on a map — the Sally Gap is at the intersection of the two roads.

View Larger Map

And a photo of the crossroads itself, from late May:
Sign at Sally Gap

A view of the pass — the mountains look small, but keep in mind that we’re far above sea level at this point:
Sally Gap

And the road upon which the unfortunates were trapped:
Military Road at Sally Gap
For centuries, Irish rebels used the Sally Gap as an escape route from raids on Dublin. The Military Road was built after the British Army, while putting down the 1798 Rebellion, found the Wicklow Mountains as impassable as the present authorities did this week.

Finally, click here to see a lovely photo from the Irish Times, taken this week, near that point.