A weekend with Desmond

I am not sure about this new fad for naming weather systems. It all seems to be a bit childlike and the jaunty wee names they have dreamt up for each successive depression are far to ‘cosy’ for the reality of a boisterous westerly gale. Regardless of my moaning, ‘Desmond’ put in an impressive appearance this weekend, lashing us here in Ireland with high winds and rain in biblical proportions. Fishing was of course out of the question but I had dog-sitting duties to perform which entailed getting out in the elements on Saturday and Sunday.

Wellies and waterproofs were donned on Saturday morning and I went off to perform my duties minding the dogs. The rain, while not of monsoon proportions was never the less steady and unrelenting. Gusts of wind drove the moisture into every possible chink in my waterproof armour and the only good point I could discern was the mildness in the air.

Meg and Gem, the two Springer Spaniels in question, paid no heed to the weather and just carried on doing what gun dogs do best – getting filthy and sodden while dashing about the bog like a pair of whirling Dervishes. The rain had started around lunchtime of Friday, so by the time I was walking the dogs on Saturday morning the ground was waterlogged and the rivers around here  were no longer confined by the banks. And still it rained.

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I cross the River Clydagh via a small bridge and the river here was barreling along, the colour of oxtail soup and sweeping all manner of debris downstream.

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Desmond was still noisy and wet when I went to bed on Saturday night but he eventually ran out of steam sometime during the dark hours and I awoke to a perfectly calm, bright day on Sunday morning. Off I went to clean out the pens, feed the dogs, and most importantly take them for a walk. After much excitement and tail wagging we finally all settled into the van and headed North through a vista of flooded fields and water choked drains.

We bounced along the dirt track leading to the bridge, trying (unsuccessfully) to dodge the alarming large potholes until we reached to river. In the short space of time since the rain had stopped the Clydagh had dropped fully three feet.

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This kind of extreme spate is due to the terrible land usage in the catchment. Coniferous plantations had ruined the natural ability of the ground to soak up and hold water. Instead it simply runs off, swelling the upper river very quickly. The problems are compounded further downstream when much of the low lying land has been drained to create poor quality pasture.

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The dogs ran about like complete lunatics for a while as I enjoyed the lovely calm day, made all the more welcome after Desmond’s rumbustious appearance. The bog was awash and even parts of the land which looked firm gave way underfoot. I rounded them up and I picked my way back to the van, me sidestepping puddles that the dogs took great delight in ploughing through. Time for home a well earned cuppa. The next storm is apparently going to be called ‘Eva’, which somehow makes me think of a slinky femme fatale in a James Bond movie rather than a nasty gales from the South West. Maybe I am just over thinking all of this – Meg and Gem didn’t seem to give two hoots about the whole affair.

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