Road deaths increase close to three-year high as wintery conditions forecast

Snow falls in some parts, with black ice and high breezes expected

Ryan Sherlock, from Dundrum, braving recent snowfall for a cycle on Kilakee Road, near the Sally Gap. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ryan Sherlock, from Dundrum, braving recent snowfall for a cycle on Kilakee Road, near the Sally Gap. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mon, Dec 23, 2013, 01:00

The death toll on the Republic’s roads has climbed above 180 for the year, as motorists face very windy and frosty conditions in coming days that look set to make roads treacherous in many parts of the country.

Some areas have already been hit by snow and ice, with AA Roadwatch yesterday warning motorists to exercise “extreme care” after snow had fallen in parts of south Dublin and Wicklow and also in counties Kildare and Louth.

Roads in parts of Carlow were also reported to be very slippery and breezy conditions halted some Irish Sea high-speed ferry crossings, with more cancellations set for today.

Some 9,000 homes, mostly in the south of the country, were without power yesterday morning as a result of damage caused by lightning.

Temperatures were forecast by Met Éireann to reach between 8 and 11 degrees today, much warmer than the marginally sub-zero figures recorded yesterday that resulted in back ice in some parts.

However, wet, windy and stormy conditions were forecast across the State today, with another cold snap expected to lead to icy roads again in some places for periods tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day is expected to be a crisp and cold day. There will be a frosty start, with temperatures as low as -2 in the early hours, with the possibility of a dusting of snow on higher ground, adding to concerns around road conditions.

In the early hours of yesterday 38-year-old Shane Donnelly, a former town clerk in Navan, Co Meath, lost his life when the car in which he was travelling went out of control and plunged into a lake in Co Roscommon. The incident occurred just after midnight when the vehicle entered the water at Grange near Strokestown. The female driver managed to escape. Efforts by passersby to revive Mr Donnelly were not successful.

That followed a single-vehicle crash in Co Cork on Saturday morning when 28-year-old Tony Dineen, Ovens, Co Cork, died. The car he was driving struck a bridge at Muckridge, Youghal, at 7.15am.

Mr Dineen, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle was airlifted by the Coast Guard helicopter to Cork University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Their deaths bring to 182 the number of fatalities on the roads so far this year, compared with 162 last year and 186 in 2011.

Met Éireann has warned that high winds of up to 129km/h will affect Connacht, as well as counties Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Cork, Kerry and Limerick from around 2am tomorrow lasting until noon.

A warning has also been issued for the Leinster area as well as Tipperary and Waterford that winds there will gust up to 110km/h on Christmas Eve from around 2am until noon.

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