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Fog and Flood

Flooding Shannon River in the fog

Once or twice a year, usually around the winter months, a fog hits Ireland and stays for 48 hours or more. I awoke this morning to find the fog from the evening before had only thickened, blanketing Athlone in a magical, silvery haze. Adding to the change of scenery, the Shannon has continued to swell, flooding several areas in the middle of town.

Speaking to one of the older Athlonians, I was told that this is may be the worst flooding Athlone has seen in the past 50 years. The last time folks around here remember the water getting this high was in 1954. I asked about the relief gates downriver and was told that they probably won’t be opened. The means by which they used to be activated was a phone call from one of the lads here in town to a good friend downriver who would obligingly open them on his own authority.

“He’d be dead and gone now, of course,” my informant told me. He went on to explain that the exploding luxury home market along the banks of the Shannon River closer to Limerick may also be to blame for the delay. It has been decades since the water was this high and those new luxury homes could be flooded should those relief gates be opened.

“Well, where would we be without the rich in this country?” I said, conversationally.

“High and dry,” came the witty response.