Snow prayers, promises and raging against our new weather culture

Are We There Yet? The best things to do with children in the chilly weather

Snow fun: children playing in  Sandymount, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

Snow fun: children playing in Sandymount, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times


“Mum, will you pray for snow?” pleads the daughter who says she doesn’t believe in God.

“Pray that there will be so much snow we don’t have to go to school,” says the other daughter who reckons she does believe.

“But don’t just pretend to pray, Mum. Close your eyes. Light a candle. Tell God you will do anything he likes if it snows”.

“Anything she likes,” I correct her because I’m annoying like that.

Look, I’m a parent and everyone knows a big part of that role is making promises you can’t always keep. “I’m not praying – it’s against my religion – but I am going to promise you there’ll be loads of snow in the morning and no school,” I say in a confident voice.

I don’t know why I am promising this. I am extremely cross about the sudden increase in the already over-the-top weather analysis in this country. I’ve spent the whole day raging against our new weather culture. This business of giving storms names. The constant rolling updates about the Beast from the East. And bread. If I hear one more person talking about bread shortages I’ll chain myself to the railings of Johnston, Mooney & O’Brien.

I go to sleep and dream I’m being chased across a snowy Phoenix Park by a giant sliced pan.

In the middle of the night the girls come into our bed, worried.

“What if there’s not enough snow?” says one.

“What if it’s a tiny bit of snow but not enough to close down the whole school?” says the other.

I don’t tell them this but looking out the window at the paper thin coating of snow on the cars I’m a bit worried myself. The last time I made such a big promise was that night I told them that when they woke up there would be a female president of America.

At 5am they wake up and look out the window.

“Snow! Loads of snow!” they scream. 

For all my weather-related crankiness I’m relieved for them. I want them to have at least one big snow memory in their lives. I was 11 in 1982 when The Big Snow came. I can still see the huge snowman I built with my brothers and sisters in the grounds of the Presbyterian church next door to our house. I remember being driven up the Dublin mountains and speeding down on a piece of red plastic nearly killing myself narrowly missing a parked car at the bottom of the slope. Happy – if health and safety free – days.

“Will you make tomato soup and hot chocolate, Mum?” says one daughter.

“And can we build a snowman? Or even a snowwoman?” says the other one.

“I will and we can,” I say.

Some things to do with the children in your life this weekend (Beast from the East permitting) ...


The cold is no reason not to get out and explore the parks or playgrounds in your area – of course it’s also sensible to heed any advice from the experts about venturing outside in bad weather. But nothing keeps small people warm like swings, roundabouts, slides, ziplines, tunnels, climbing frames, forest trails and exploring in gorgeous scenery. Why not a visit a park you’ve never been to before or get to know a new part of your local?

Where: Parks and playgrounds across the country

When: All day

Cost: Free

Thóg Trál – Take a Trail
This is a special trail in the National Museum of Archaeology to celebrate Seachtain Na Gaeilge – which in a fun Irish twist is actually a fortnight long not a week – which runs from the 1st of March until March 17th. Challenge yourself to completing the worksheets in Irish, they’re available at reception.

Where: National Archaeology Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin

When: Until March 17th

Cost: Free

Contact: 01-6777444 or visit snag.iefor all details of Seachtain Na Gaeilge

Me & The City: why not try a visual art workshop at the Ark Children’s Cultural Centre in Dublin?
Me & The City: why not try a visual art workshop at the Ark Children’s Cultural Centre in Dublin?

Bookmaking for kids
What’s even better than reading? Making your own books of course. Join artist Susan Walsh is this collaborative parent and child bookmaking workshops.

Where: Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Co Cork

When: There are two 90-minute workshops: 11.30am-1pm; 2-3.30pm on Sunday, March 4th

Cost: €5

Contact: 021-481 3790

Me & The City
Have you ever stood in front of Dublin’s famous Spire and wondered what the city looks like from the top? What shape it makes from the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, along the river and between the canals? Discover and explore the colours and textures of a city and its environment and how architects and artists create the iconic buildings, sculptures and street art within it. From this weekend children’s cultural centre the Ark is running visual arts workshops for children in a special programme dedicated to the city environment.

Where: The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin

When: March 3rd-April 7th. Every Saturday (excluding March 17th) and bank holiday Monday, March 19th

Cost: €11.50/€8.50 per child; ages 5-7 and 8-12

Contact: 01-6707788 or