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Rebellion Weather

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(Some observations on the weather of Easter Week 1916)

In the past weather has sometimes affected the outcome of warfare. Notable examples are Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812 and the D-Day Landings in 1944. While the weather of Easter Week 1916 did not influence the outcome of the Rising, it is interesting to see how it affected those involved in the fighting and also the citizens of Dublin at that time.

I will look at the week from Monday 24th April to Sunday 30th April and see what maximum temperature was recorded each day at Phoenix Park weather station.

On Monday 24th, Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 26th April 1916, 17 degrees Celsius was the maximum temperature. On Thursday 27th it was 16 degrees. On Friday 28th it was 13 degrees and on both Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th it was 15 degrees.

The average maximum temperature for April in Dublin is 13 degrees. Consequently, the weather was pleasant for outdoor activities. On Easter Monday many people, including Military personnel made their way to Fairyhouse Races or to the beaches at Dalkey and Malahide.

Max Caulfield, in his book ‘The Easter Rebellion’ has many references to the weather.
Easter Monday: “blue sky – wisps of trailing cloud” and also: “the warm midday air”.

Early on the morning of Tuesday 25th participants of the Rising occupied St. Stephen’s Green. A cold wind was blowing and “women lay huddled together for warmth”. (Max Caulfield). The average daily rainfall for April is 1.5 millimetres. On Easter Tuesday 5.9 millimetres fell. Looting took place in Sackville Street “despite a dark lowering sky”. (Max Caulfield). Eventually a downpour cleared the streets! Every other day of the week had little or no rain.

The average daily sunshine is 5 hours for April. This figure was well surpassed with 11.7 hours on Saturday 29th and 11.4 hours on Sunday 30th April.

Winds ranged during the week from southerly at the start to north-easterly at the end. They were generally light in strength.

The rebels who surrendered spent Saturday night (29th) / Sunday morning (30th) in the open air in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital.
They were “thoroughly miserable, stiff and half-frozen”. (Max Caulfield).

Minimum air temperature had dipped to 3 degrees with ground temperature only 1 degree overnight. To summarize, no weather records were broken during Easter Week 1916. Apart from rain on Tuesday 25th and cold nights towards the end of the week it was a pleasant spell of warm April weather with a lot of brilliant sunshine on the day of surrender (Saturday 29th) and also, on Sunday 30th when the rebels were marched to Richmond Barracks, Inchicore. After the Rising a fine spell of weather was sometimes referred to as “Rebellion Weather”.

Denis Torsney