‘We’re interacting with neighbours we haven’t spoken to in years’

Wicklow and Kildare residents still stranded by heavy snowfall

Snow drifts are making roads impassable in Rathmore, Co Kildare.  Photograph: Niall Sargent

Snow drifts are making roads impassable in Rathmore, Co Kildare. Photograph: Niall Sargent

 

When Fionnuala Rogerson and her family moved into the Glencree Valley 30 years ago, they thought heavy snow in Wicklow would be a regular occurrence, but they had never seen such a volume until this year.

In 2010, Rogerson was snowed out of the house for nearly a week but this is the first time she and her husband have been stuck inside the house for so long. More than five days after the first snowfall, the couple are still unable to drive their car up the laneway which leads from the main Glencree road to their property. They also lost access to water when the pipes froze during the second day of snowfall. Fortunately Rogerson’s son had dropped off some containers of water before the blizzard hit.

“We haven’t been using the washing machine or dishwasher and we’ve been very careful about flushing toilets.”

The electricity in the house is still running and Rogerson has relied on the oven to cook all the meals. While the snow has begun to recede, there was still at least four feet of powder outside the home on Monday. She hopes to be able to drive into nearby Enniskerry by Wednesday at the latest.

“I really feel for people who have livestock in these conditions. We lost a donkey one year when a shed caved in and it’s the worst thing. We have three pheasants that live in a field near the house and one of them was wandering around alone today. He came right up to me and ate peanuts out of my hand, he was that hungry.”

Neighbourly support

Rogerson says the support from neighbours in recent days has been invaluable. “I must have had at least 10-15 calls from people checking in. A nearby farmer has been sending texts to see if we’re okay and drove his tractor down our lane to create a track.”

Niall Sargent, who lives in Wolfestown in Rathmore, Co Kildare with his wife and parents, agrees the treacherous conditions have brought rural communities closer together.

“Walking up and down the roads we’re interacting with neighbours we haven’t spoken to in years and meeting new people from the area. We’ve started a Facebook group and hopefully this will bond the community together even more in the future.”

Sargent, who has been unable to leave his home since last Tuesday evening, says the snow drifts have made the short drive into nearby Blessington impossible.

“Once the snow drifts arrived the landscape was totally transformed. We’ve got four to eight foot drifts on my road and drifts of 10-15 foot at the top of the hill.”

Sargent is very grateful to the local farmers who have given up their free time to clear the roads. “We’re indebted to the community who got out there in their JCBs. They were out clearing the roads from 2pm-10pm yesterday. Kildare County Council has been in co-ordination with them to help and hopefully they’ll be reimbursed. We’re collecting a fund for them now and hopefully by tomorrow we’ll be able to get down towards Naas.”