Daltai na Gaeilge
Proverbs

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Olc síon an sioc, is fearr sioc ná sneachta agus is fearr sneachta ná síorbháisteach.

Frost is bad weather,[but] frost is better than snow, and snow is better than eternal rain.

Note: Your editor took a bus tour of Dublin once. During the tour, the bus driver was heard to comment on the local climate, a common Irish pastime: "Oh, the weather was grand this week last. It only rained twice. Once for three days and once for four days."

From the lament in this week's proverb, you would think that Ireland gets a lot of rain. As you will see in the table below, Dublin has an average annual rainfall of 29.7 inches. But, the average annual rainfall for New York City, over the same points in time, is significantly greater at 47.5 inches.

 

IRISH CLIMATE - ANNUAL RAINFALL
Station 1962
(mm)
(inches)
1980
(mm)
(inches)
1990
(mm)
(inches)
1997
(mm)
(inches)
1998
(mm)
(inches)
Cork Airport 1,042.4
41.0
1,303.8
51.3
1,032.7
40.7
1,269.2
50.0
1,378.4
54.3
Dublin Airport 654.2
25.8
825.1
32.5
728.4
28.7
725.9
28.6
832.4
32.8
Kerry 1,232.3
48.5
1,775.5
69.9
1,334.8
52.6
1,393.7
54.9
1,782.3
70.2
Kilkenny 790.5
31.1
898.1
35.4
842.1
33.2
932.6
36.7
977.8
38.5
Malin Head 991.3
39.0
1,084.3
42.4
1,310.8
51.6
999.7
39.4
1,285.2
50.6
Mullingar 968.2
38.1
1,007.6
39.7
1,022.1
40.2
938.6
37.0
1,079.9
42.5
Shannon Airport 921.2
36.3
1,043.1
41.1
1,023.9
40.3
1,026.9
40.4
1,144.5
45.1
Central Park,
New York
998.2
39.3
1,132.8
44.6
1,546.9
60.9
1,115.1
43.9
1,237.0
48.7
Sources: Irish Meteorological Service
U.S. National Weather Service

It rains with about the same frequency in New York and Dublin, about 11 days a month, on average. Yet, it is not common to hear complaints in New York about "eternal rain." The difference can be attributed to the fact that when the rain is over in New York, the sun comes out and tends to stay out. In Dublin, however, it seems to be eternally overcast, with the sun peeking out of the clouds for only a few hours each month. In New York, when it rains it usually pours. By contrast, Dublin rains tend to be more of a gentle mist. Dublin's perpetual cloudiness permits this mist to linger in the air indefinitely. This tends to give the impression of "eternal rain".

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