January 4th 1963
LIMERICK awoke this morning with the temperature ascending to freezing point after shivering to the coldest night ever with 24 degrees below freezing point.
Parts of the River Shannon in the city and suburbs were frozen over during the night; and today Limerick was a city of burst water pipes and frozen oil heaters. The Limerick Clothing Factory, Edward Street, one of the city's oldest establishments, was closed today except for the office staff, as the oil in the boilers had frozen. This closure will cost hundreds of pounds.
When the 300 or more employees turned up for work this morning they were told on behalf of the management to go home. If the weather eases they will return to work tomorrow.
Hundreds of homes throughout the city are without water and plumbers are in very great demand. Two water mains were burst by the severity of the frost. These are located in Ballynanty Beg and Hogan Avenue, Killeely. A Corporation official said today: "We had to cut off the water supply there until repairs are carried out." Thus, the frost in its thickest form yet, caused additional hardships to citizens in these areas.
Garages were busy throughout the early part of the day defrosting cars, and the sales of anti-freeze soared. Some garages were hampered through lack of water, but this was also a complaint with some publicans who had no water supply to wash glasses.
Housewives were badly hit generally. Not only were domestic water supplies unobtainable in some districts, but milk delivered in the customary pint bottles were also affected by the great freeze-up.
LEMONADE WAS FROZEN
One shopkeeper found three dozen bottles of lemonade frozen solid when he opened his shop this morning. Some of the bottles had burst.
Dripping water from burst pipes left icicles in some cases as long as twenty feet. Pieces of ice from frozen water measured four inches thick.
All quarries are frozen solid and children were skating gaily on them in perfect safety.
Hundreds of Limerick people visited Loughmore yesterday and skated for hours. Others played ice hockey there. The lake was packed again in the afternoon, mainly with schoolchildren.
In Limerick and suburbs, the great freeze-up has brought icing conditions which are unprecedented in living memory. The ebb and flow of high tides did not prevent large patches of ice forming on the river below Sarsfield Bridge, and Arthurs Quay was completely frozen over.
But the full effects of the protracted cold wave are even more apparent in the upper reaches of the river. At Athlunkard Boat Club, the Abbey river is an ice floe, stretching almost half-way across, and undulating in its formation, where it was built up at different tide levels.
The canal at Guinness's old wharf is a solid ice pack. It is possible to walk across from either side, and the ice, five inches in thickness, is littered with boulders which were evidently thrown to test its strength. A heavy iron bar, flung from the bank, could no more than stratch the surface.
Corbally baths is closed to hardy annuals. Here even in the summer the flow is strong enough to change the pool waters every five minutes. Now it would take hard work with an ice pick to break the surface.
The sight from the Mill Road to St Thomas's Island is truly arctic. For the first time in perhaps a hundred years the rapids from bank to bank are held fast in ice, and the countryside as far as the eye can see is blanketed in white frost.
A little further down dozens of swans show up in white relief on black stretches of water that have not yet iced over, and occasionally the sky is darkened by thousands of wild duck in flight.
And for the first time in living memory, too, a new sound is heard in Corbally. It is the continuous, eerie and sharp noise of cracking ice, known well to arctic explorers, and now breaking the winter silence a mile from the city centre.
Shannon Airport's coldest ever night had more trouble when freezing fog began to descend on both the airport and Limerick around midnight. A freight aircraft which landed before midnight was hemmed in overnight by the fog. Other planes over-flew the airport. Later the temperature began to ascend gradually, but not sufficient to move well beyond freezing.
Part of the River Shannon near Arthurs Quay and Shannon Rowing Club, and again near Barrington's Pier, were frozen over yesterday morning.
The Abbey river from Matthew Bridge to George's Quay was also frozen over and four seagulls were trapped by the ice, opposite Barrington's Hospital. Small boys who went down to free them found them frozen to death.
The dock at Limerick Port is completely frozen over and this morning it was an eerie sight to see three large ships held motionless in the thick ice. Usually there is a slight heaving of the ships in the water, but today the frost-covered masses seemed to have been built into their surroundings. Thousands of hungry seagulls waited here and there over the ice and their crying added still more to the setting.
The frost, however, did not hamper the unloading of the three ships, which were the "Londonbrook", "Dromineer" and the "Sussex Trader".
The dry dock is also frozen over. By contrast, on the opposite side of the Shannon there was a beautiful scene. The tall trees seemed to have silvery leaves, as the houses nestled amongst them.
The shivering atmosphere influenced many mothers and fathers too, to keep their children indoors this morning and, consequently, the schoolrooms in Limerick were not as full as usual. Burst water pipes kept the children home from a school in Galway.
Bantry (Co. Cork) harbour was frozen over this morning — an occurrence that had not a precedent for 90 years.
In the Botanic Gardens, Dublin, the temperature during last night was 26 degrees below freezing point.
The east coast, liberally covered with snow again, was the worst hit part of the country.
Snow fell again in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, to add to the hazards of travel.
In the afternoon there was a thaw, which lessened the severe conditions, but there is no indication that "Jack Frost" is going back home.
Originally published on Jan 4 1963
Republished In the County Chronicle in 2005.