Tuesday, 22nd May 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"It was snow joke!"

Well, didn’t we get some dollop of snow last week? In Castle Garland, the back garden had over 50cm and believe it or not, 100cm in some places where the wind caused drifting. This was three days of Winter weather nobody will ever forget. We’ll be talking to our

Grandchildren, in years to come, saying "I remember the Spring of 2018, when Ireland STOPPED for three days."

"We ran out of BREAD!"

Or tea, in my case, I had to resort to drinking "Lady Grey, with zingy orange zest!"

Unfortunately, an event I am involved with, the 1848 Tricolour Celebrations, had to be cancelled in its entirety, from the 2nd to 4th March. We had an inkling that reaching Waterford City was going to prove impossible. The main roads may have been cleared by Saturday, but we had a feeling that accessing these major arterial routes was going to prove slightly more troublesome. In the end the right decision was made. The thaw only truly started between Saturday evening and early Sunday morning. We did have a number of intrepid guests, who completed their journey to Waterford City from Montana, New York and Tasmania. Hopefully, they will return in 2019.

I was on WLR’s Déise Today, to speak about the tough cancellation decision. Of course the conversation came around to my Scottish roots and how my home country coped with these unprecedented levels of snow. Scotland is a country of four REAL seasons. We do get snow in the Winter and therefore are prepared for this eventuality. We drive in the snow, get our messages in the snow and "Boi" do we love playing in the snow, much like our Scandinavian cousins.

Truth be told, I love the Winter, cold crisp air and sharp morning frosts, lots of snow, to practice my driving skills and some great Scottish skiing. (Though admittedly almost always bloody freezing!) I used to own a 1964 Mini Cooper S and when the snow fell, I would be transported to the South of France and the Monte Carlo Rally. I was Paddy Hopkirk, on the back roads around Pitlessie

Village. For a few fleeting moments I could make my Cooper S dance on the snow. Then I’d get stuck in a snowbank, having to dig myself out, without a spade and with no Winter clothing on – you get my drift.

Community spirit can always be judged in times of hardship. Over the four days of "Snowmagedden", the

Council, Civil Defence, Armed Forces, Garda and hundreds of volunteer "4x4 minicab drivers" did their bit. We saw nurses walking to University Hospital Waterford, like a scene out of "Scott of the Antarctic". Our local Broadcast Centre, home to WLR and Beat, steadfastly refused to go "Off-air".

Then there was Damien Tiernan and his local cameraman, Neilus Dennehy. - our very own Shackleton and Crean. Standing up to absolutely everything that the "Beast from the East" and "Storm Emma" could throw at them. Despite ALL their stoic minute by minute coverage, I picked up a comment, by some numpty on social media, that there was more to the South East than just Waterford. Clearly this bloke had his head buried.....in the snow.

"Team Waterford" came to the fore. We pulled together with blitz like spirit. You could see people helping neighbours, communal paths being swept clean of snow and grit/salt being shared by all. This was truly uplifting.

Yet amongst this fortitude, we saw gratuitous acts of vandalism beyond imagination, in Dublin. A local supermarket being raided, then destroyed with a mechanical digger. The safe being stolen, then paraded as a trophy through the street, like a Sam Maguire homecoming. Appalling watching, which sadly made

International news.

Thankfully, nothing like this took place in Waterford. Though we did appear to be missing from ALL the TV3 weather maps. Maybe, we had too much snow and were metaphorically buried?

As we return to some form of reality, spare a thought for the many SME independent businesses that had to close for 3 or 4 days. It’s time to support our local shops. Perhaps Government could give them a tax break in their aid package? After all, Waterford’s SME’s are far more important than the NDP!

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