School: Gortloney (roll number 11978)

Location:
Gortloney, Co. Meath
Teacher:
Eoghan de Buitléir

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The Night of the Big Wind - Great Storm of January 1839

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0716, Page 245

Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD. See copyright details »

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The great storm which, just one hundred years ago, swept over Ireland, has throughout the years remained in the popular memory as a definite point, an epoch-making event, in the history of the nineteenth century.

The "Night of the Big Wind" as it is popularly called, made an indellible impression on the popular imagination, and long after its tempestuous fury has spent itself, and its ravages had been repaired, it remained the one great land-mark, before which all others paled their ineffectual fires, and faded out of popular memory. It has been popularly recognised as the determining factor in establishing the chronology of the events of the century.
It has long since been observed that local tradition generally ignores dates: a flat picture of the past is a feature of the traditional presentation of history. Chronology is rarely taken into consideration. But the great storm of 1839 is an exception to the general rules, and the exact date, the 6th of January of that year, is common knowledge.
Our information concerning the storm comes from two serious sources, first a vivid local tradition, and secondly, the files of contemporary newspapers.

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Language
English