independent

Tuesday 17 July 2018

91-year-old tells of last big storm in 1947

Snow brought Ireland to a halt in the winter of 1947
Snow brought Ireland to a halt in the winter of 1947
Bernie Curtis, aged 91, who experienced the 1947 snowstorm

David Tucker

Bernie Curtis vividly recalls the snow storm of 1947, reputedly the worst in the county until Storm Emma and the Beast from the East joined forces to bring the Model County to a halt last week.

The 91 year old doesn't think that Emma and the Beast were any worse than the storm she experienced as a young shop worker in the town all those years ago, it's just that we have got softer and she comes from a time when the phrase 'get on your bikes' literally meant that.

Bernie said there was no question of not getting into work on snow days, it was a case of riding your bike through the white stuff and pushing it when the going was too tough.

'You had to drag the bikes through little gaps down the centre of the road because the snow was so hard.'

'I was working in a shop called Fitzpatrick's in the north end then and you had to be in a 9 o'clock to open u for all the elderly people.. but it was bad all right, the biggest I ever saw,' she said.

'We didn't have social media, we didn't have televisions and we didn't have cars.. in fact when I left national school to go to the Presentation, only three or four of us had bicycles.

She recalls a man from Taghmon, a Billy Kelly, who used to bring out groceries for the people and grain for the cattle to the districts in a horse and cart when the snow was thick on the ground.

'He used to leave the supplies at the side of the road and my brother and father used to pick them up in wheelbarrows,' she said.

Bernie said she hadn't been into Wexford town following last week's storms, but from the pictures she had seen, she was shocked at the amount of snow on the streets.

'I was hard to get around, but from the monument into town, it was kept clear.. I think there were more farmers around in those days keeping the roads clear, so the town was all right, but there was plenty of snow towards Ferrycarrig and the Slaney.'

She remembers that her mother always kept her own chickens and churned her own butter and what she didn't need was sold to supplement the family income.

Bernie, a grandmother to 20 children and a great grandchildren to 22, still lives at the family home where she was born in Ardcandrisk, Ferrycarrig.

She fondly recalls the tightness of the community and the spirit of the people who lived there as well as their acceptance of natural events - like the odd snow storm. 'It wasn't unusual to have snow like it is now, around Christmas or New Year you would always have snow, so it wouldn't come as a great surprise like it did last week, if there was a storm you accepted it.

'But people were a lot hardier, children weren't pampered and had to go out and look after themselves. If times were bad, nothing really stopped. People are just not used to it, nothing closed down and the papers were always delivered,' she said, looking out through her window at the cold blue sky last Wednesday.

Bernie is the daughter of Catherine and Patrick Broaders, who used to work at the Johnstown Estate and moved to Ardcandrisk IN 1917. She married 'a townman' Bill Curtis, from Michael Street, and the couple went on to have seven children, the youngest of whom, 50-year-old Paul still lives at home. She said she was cleaning and planning to create some flower arrangements following her interview with the paper. 'I'm fed up at looking at the water in the pots,' she said.

Wexford People

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