A postman renowned for predicting the weather using ancient methods today insisted Ireland is heading for a white Christmas.
Michael Gallagher, who learned his age-old technique from the last generations living high in Donegal’s Blue Stack mountains, uses nature and the behaviour of animals to make his forecast.
The 61-year-old, who lives in the remote Glenfin Valley, said all the signs pointed to snow on its way.
“We are definitely on our way to a white Christmas,” he said.
More scientific meteorological forecasters would only say snow was possible during an expected cold spell coming in this week – but they cannot tell how long it will last.
Mr Gallagher, who says his methods were relied on for hundreds of years before television weather forecasters, will raise the hopes of those dreaming of a white Christmas.
“Predicting one day precisely is very hard to pull off, but I’m almost definite – about 90%,” he said.
“When the sun shines on to the (Blue Stack) mountains, and down to the lowlands it’s turning a reddish-brown colour, that’s a sign of snow.
“The sheep and the cattle are going mad too, shaking themselves, coming in off the mountains and coming to the gate.
“And I noticed the other day, the fox is getting very busy, looking for hens and howling at two in the morning.
“There’s a hunger in everything, they want to be fed because they know what is coming. These are ’moving signs’ that things are going to happen.”
A postman for 42 years, Mr Gallagher shot into the public spotlight two years ago when he lifted the nation’s sodden spirits with his unorthodox prediction of an end to incessant summer rain.
Massive interest in his old techniques and a trip to China – with his daughter, who won a silver medal in the Special Olympics – where he noted many old traditions survive, prompted him to complete a book this year, Traditional Weather Signs.
Using those methods, he said, everything was signalling a “tight and hard” wintry snap in the coming weeks, with the best chance for years of widespread snow on December 25.
“There’s so many signs I can tell you: the late growth of grass in October, the haws are laden with berries – that’s another sign,” he said.
Rob Hutchinson, forecaster with Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said there was a seasonal cold snap on its way, but added it was too early to tell by more scientific methods if there would be a white Christmas.
“There is some snow possible towards next weekend – I wouldn’t be confident of it, but there’s potential for it,” he said.
“But to accurately predict Christmas Day, it’s a bit too far away at the moment.”