Connect to share and comment

No way off the island of Ireland, unless by boat

DUBLIN — It’s not what you would expect in Ireland, to be cut off by air because of volcanic ash.

All the airports, Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Belfast are closed indefinitely. The only way on or off the island is by boat.

The radio news broadcasts are warning people not to think of going to the airports. We are hearing heart-rending stories of people unable to attend funerals and weddings overseas, never mind go on pre-paid holidays.

Just our luck that the winds are from the north, rather than the south west as normal. This is the same unusual air stream that gave Ireland its savage winter. We are told that the ash, if it falls, will not damage our health. I’m thinking of damage to my car. I usually leave it in the open but I’ve just gone out and driven it into the garage in case it gets covered in ash.

The weather is very dry at present so the ash will not be brought down by rain, but next week it is to be wet and the current weather model shows winds coming directly from Iceland, according to the Irish meteorological office.

The airports may not open for days, a spokesman for Dublin airport authority said. There were no angry scenes at the airport because people realized there was nothing anyone could do. The ferry services to and from the U.K. travel are never full at this time of year, but were quickly booked out this morning and one of their websites crashed this afternoon.

We will be looking out this evening for a lurid sunset which is a feature of volcanic eruption, not that we have much experience of that here, but we are all suddenly volcanic experts. Thanks to the media and the internet, everyone is also up to speed on Icelandic volcanoes, and the big concern is that the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull which caused the present dust plume might trigger a larger explosion at nearby Mount Katla.

Then we are back to the prospect of a year of no summer in Ireland as happened in 1816 after the eruption on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. That summer it rained in Ireland for 142 days. Come to think of it, that’s not really that unusual. 

More on the ash cloud.