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Joining Ireland's snow patrol

While I was away skiing I was in contact with my family in Ireland and they were all going on and on about how severe the weather was in Ireland. To be honest, I didn't take much heed, as we all know how people in Ireland like to talk about the weather! I had no idea that the country had almost come to a complete standstill. As a country, we usually don't find ourselves having to deal with dangerous frost, snow, freezing fog, and black ice, so the country certainly was not prepared for what was happening.

When I finally landed back in Dublin airport, I was delighted to be home but still had to drive to Wexford, where my family are. I was terrified, as the driving conditions were horrendous. My father had to meet me in his Jeep in the town of Gorey in Wexford as my car would not make the journey to the family home in the countryside. The schools across the country are closed, public transport has come to a halt, and only the main roads have been gritted as local county councils are trying to conserve grit as the bad weather is expected to continue for almost another two weeks.

In Wexford, there is no one in the stores -- a lot of companies have closed during this cold spell. Most people are just staying indoors with family as conditions outside are treacherous. In one way, it is a good thing: Ireland has been completely heartbroken this past year due to the brutal economy and people have been completely stressed out. So now all that people can do is stay indoors during the bad weather and relax, look after one another and visit neighbors. I am writing this from a small country house in a very rural part of County Wexford, and the snow is very heavy outside but I'm happy here for the next few days. I just hope my flight back to New York leaves OK.

My first article of the year was supposed to be about how you should all make a New Year's resolution to learn Irish in 2010 and I am going to try very hard to convince you to in my next column. But I could not fail to write about the weather in Ireland as it's the worst weather we have had here in 40 years! When you are in contact with your relatives in Ireland this week, believe them when they say that it's awful here.

Hopefully there won't be too many accidents and fatalities during this bad weather. It can be a very tough time for the elderly as they cannot go outside for fear of falling. Salt is not put on the sidewalks here in Ireland the way it is in the U.S., so even the shortest walk can result in an accident. As for the kids here, schools are closed, so they are enjoying every minute of this unexpectedly prolonged Christmas vacation. After my skiing in Europe and now the snow in Ireland, I am ready for the winter Olympics 2012.

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