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What Ireland looked like on every White Christmas since 1964

What did we watch on RTE in 1964? Who had the Christmas No 1 during the Big Freeze of 2010?

Christmas Day snow A man walks in the Wicklow mountains on Christmas Day. Source: PA WIRE

A WHITE CHRISTMAS in Ireland is a rare thing. According to Met Éireann, the likelihood of snow falling in Dublin Airport, for example, is once every 5.9 years.

Since 1961, there were 17 Christmas Days when snow actually fell somewhere in the country, and nine when snow was visible on the ground by 9 am on 25 December.

When it does happen, it lives long in the memory.

So let’s take a look back at what was going on the world, what we were watching and listening to, on those nine days in the last 51 years when we woke to a White Christmas.

1964

There was plenty of the snow on the ground on Christmas Day – especially in the West – but it didn’t snow, with the Irish Times reporting “brilliant sunshine” across the country.

Irish News: Nine killed in Ireland over the Christmas period, four on the roads.

World News: Civil war in the Congo; 52 US soldiers killed in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India emerge from the Rameswaram cyclone, which killed at least 1,800 people.

Taoiseach: Seán Lemass (Fíanna Fáil)
President: Éamon deValera

Christmas Number One

Source: TheBeatles4EverHD/YouTube

On RTE:

Santa Claus meeting kids in person for the Telefis Éireann Christmas party; a party-piece talent show with Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins, called Christmas at Home; and the big movie was The Road to Utopia, with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

1970

The lowest temperature recorded in Ireland was -3 at Claremorris, as all of Europe was hit by the coldest and snowiest Christmas in years.

Irish News: Gardaí searched for three men who escaped from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, an outbreak of anthrax on two farms in Co Limerick, and the breathalyser test was introduced for the first time, leading to just two arrests.

World News: Two Russian Jews were to be executed, and nine others (also mostly Jewish) to be put on trial in the pro-Western hijacking of a Soviet civilian aircraft.

Taoiseach: Jack Lynch (Fíanna Fáil)
President: Éamon de Valera

Christmas Number One

Source: exclusivevids1000/YouTube

On RTE:

Christmas Day started with three hours and 40 minutes of church carols and masses, followed by the Nutcracker, the Snow Queen, and the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera.

1980

Heavy snow was reported in Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan and Wicklow, while temperatures for the Christmas Day swim in Co Kerry was said to have been the lowest in 30 years.

Irish News: An EEC (European Economic Community) survey found the Irish people pessimistic, expecting the recession of 1980 to get worse in 1981, and nine people were killed in eight separate road accidents.

World News: 52 American hostages faced their second Christmas in captivity in Tehran. They would be released the following month.

Taoiseach: Charlie Haughey (Fianna Fáil)
President: Patrick Hillery

Christmas Number One

Source: belkin59/YouTube

On RTE:

Bosco, Wanderly Wagon, the Towering Inferno and Funny Lady, starring Barbara Streisand.

1993

Weeks of persistent rain gave way to snow in parts of the country on Christmas Eve, giving us the first White Christmas in 13 years, according to Met Éireann.

Irish News: A three-day IRA ceasefire ended with a bombing in Co Tyrone.

World News: An Israeli army Colonel was shot dead by Palestinians in Gaza, the Bosnian War continued, and the New York Times had a special report on how Christmas traditions – ordering food, lighting trees – were being adapted to the “Internet digital highway, a vast web of computer networks that encircles the planet”.

Taoiseach: Albert Reynolds (Fianna Fáil)
President: Mary Robinson

Christmas Number One

Source: TakeThatVEVO/YouTube

On RTE:

ET, Into the West, a performance of the HMS Pinafore, and Arabesque with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren.

1995

Freezing fog, frozen ground, a thin blanket of snow, and temperatures as low as -8 degrees were seen during an unusually bad cold snap on and around Christmas Day.

Irish News: The National Roads Authority was planning a controversial new toll on the M50, while President Mary Robinson announced her first official visit to the UK, in 1996.

World News: More than 400 people were killed in a fire at a school in India, while Yasser Arafat attended Christmas mass in Bethlehem, now under Palestinian control after the Oslo Accords.

Taoiseach: John Bruton (Fine Gael)
President: Mary Robinson

Christmas Number One

Source: BoyzoneVEVO/YouTube

On RTE:

The Den TV Christmas special, Mary Poppins, Home Alone 2.

1999

A band of low pressure, and temperatures of -2 degrees left a covering of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.

Irish News: TDs were to receive an extra £250 a week in their wages, while the cost of the Flood tribunal was measured at $5 million.

World News: Russia began an assault on Grozny, capital of the separatist republic of Grozny, and Sikh extremists hijacked an Indian Airlines plane with 189, killing one, before landing it in Afghanistan.

Taoiseach: Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fáil)
President: Mary McAleese

Christmas Number One:

Source: SuperMickeymouse1/YouTube

On RTE:

Santa’s Millenium Clause (with Dustin and Soky), Michael Collins. TV3 had It’s a Wonderful Life and Ghostbusters.

2004

Christmas Day snow A man walks in the Wicklow Mountains, Christmas Day 2004. Source: PA WIRE

The first White Christmas in five years saw freezing temperatures and black ice on the roads of Ireland, with two dozen accidents on the M50 alone.

Irish News: In the aftermath of the infamous £22 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, the IRA denies it was responsible, and 320 people were arrested for drink-driving, in the run-up to Christmas.

World News: On St Stephen’s Day, one of the worst natural disasters in living memory takes place. The Indian Ocean earthquake causes a tsunami which kills at least 180,000 people in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and across Southeast Asia.

Taoiseach: Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fáil)
President: Mary McAleese

Christmas Number One:

Source: Nicolae Marian/Dailymotion

Top of the Box Office:

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Polar Express, The Incredibles.

2009

Winter weather - Ireland The Wicklow Mountains Source: PA WIRE

Temperatures as low as -6 brought snow to the northern half of the country on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Irish News: In the aftermath of the Murphy report in to clerical child sex abuse, Bishop James Moriarty resigns, and four people were killed on the roads.

World News: Umar Farouk Abudlmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian Islamist militant, attempted to blow up a civilian flight with 289 people on board, over Detroit.

He had sewn explosives into his underpants, but was subdued after passengers noticed smoke emerging from his trousers.

Taoiseach: Brian Cowen (Fianna Fáil)
President: Mary McAleese

Christmas Number One

Source: The X Factor UK/YouTube

On RTE:

Toy Story, the Incredibles, the Commitments.

2010

The year of the Big Freeze. 27 cm (more than two feet) of snow were measured on the ground at Casement Aerodrome on Christmas Day – the most every recorded by Met Éireann.

The Weather Channel recorded temperatures of -11 degrees Celsius in Dublin, the lowest on record for 25 December.

Source: Dr. Oliver Snr. Whyte/YouTube

Irish News: And now the weather. Flights delayed and cancelled, roads closed, and travel chaos into and across Ireland dominated the headlines.

World News: Eight American tourists were killed in a bus crash in Egypt, and the high-profile search for missing English architect Joanna Yeats came to a tragic end, after the discovery of a body on Christmas Day.

Taoiseach: Brian Cowen (Fianna Fáil)
President: Mary McAleese

Christmas Number One

Source: The X Factor UK/YouTube

On RTE:

The Secret of Kells, Mamma Mia and the Departed. TG4 got the win on Christmas Day with the Quiet Man.

(Christmas Number Ones via IRMA)

WATCH: Relive a 1940s Irish Christmas with these magical archive videos>

Read: 24 weird and wonderful seasonal photos that you won’t find on a Christmas card> 

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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