Summertime but the livin’ ain’t easy

The Times We Lived In – Published: June 12th 1963. Photograph by Jimmy McCormack

 

We like to complain about the rain in this country, and the first half of 2018 seemed to bring a plethora of precipitation down on our heads – but summer deluges are nothing new. And as the Gospel of Matthew points out, rain isn’t fussy where it falls.

“An affluent tree-lined avenue” is how Ailesbury Road is described on Wikipedia. Well, quite; the very name conjures up unsullied period properties and unconscionable price tags. But as today’s photo demonstrates, even posh folks can be flummoxed by unexpected flooding.

On June 11th, 1963, the heavens opened on Dublin 4. Some 75 millimetres fell on Mount Merrion in a single hour, while a 24-hour total of 97.8 mm was recorded at Ballsbridge.

Nowadays, of course, we’re all herded inside during adverse weather as the telly forecast takes on the role of weather police. Back in 1963, however, it was a more relaxed business. And on this occasion the forecasters were caught on the hop: “scattered outbreaks of thundery rain” was, as it turned out, a bit of an understatement.

The caption on our picture is also remarkably low-key. “Mr J J McKevitt, Mrs Helen White and Mr John White, heading towards their homes through the flood waters in Ailesbury Road, Dublin,” it says.

“Heading towards their homes . . .” Is the photographer having a laugh? Up to their oxters, would be more like it. The men appear to be dressed, not for a stroll in leafy Dublin 4, but for something more akin to an Antarctic expedition. Mr McKevitt is pointing towards some unseen horror just off-camera; Mr White stares straight at us with an expression of shock and disbelief.

Mrs White has bravely donned a pair of shorts and appears to be determined to enjoy her impromptu summer paddle. But she is, not surprisingly, glancing down to check whether the water has entered her wellies. Oh yes. It has. And that’s not a good look – no matter where you live.

These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, “The Times We Lived In”, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.

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