Red deer fleeing snow spotted in middle of Killarney town

By Anne Lucey

The snow has finally arrived in Kerry. Snow drifting to up to 2 ft in places is reported and the county which had enjoyed bright crisp dry days is completely covered from the most westerly Great Blasket Island to the Cork county bounds in the east.

A number of cars have gone off the road in the north east of the county and the area from Listowel to Brosna to Knocknagoshel near Limerick is one of the worst affected.

The county council is urging motorists to stay off the road.

Solicitor Robert Pierse told Radio Kerry this morning it reminds him of the snow of 1947 when the Feale river in Dishtowel froze over and tobogganing took place on sheets of wrought iron down a hill.

Several inches of snow are accumulating on the streets of the north Kerry town and snow is continuing to fall heavily.

Elsewhere snow on higher ground in Killarney is several inches deep and up to 2ft in drifts on highest areas.

Coastal areas are blanketed also, and on the N86 Tralee to Dingle road over a foot of snow had accumulated overnight.

Large numbers of red deer have been descending from higher ground in advance of the snowfall and have been spotted in New Street in Killarney town centre.

There are fears also for some of the more sensitive, Mediterranean plants which grow in the micro climate of the southwest – many gardens have covered tree ferns and other species. However there are worries for myrtle, strawberry trees and other species in a cold spell so late in the year when buds were beginning.

Billy Alexander of Kells subtropical gardens, a huge tree fern forest deep in the Ring of Kerry says while some of the rare black tree ferns have frozen fronds, and are drooping, the more “common tree fern” ( Kells has a tree fern forest, the largest north of the Equator) has escaped.

But the arrival of the snow is actually of benefit as it relieves the wind chill which was a severe threat.

Leaves on rare plants become desiccated by the wind chill from the east and that is the worry, he explained.

It is windchill too which kills off tiny buds on apple and other trees.

“Aesthetically they are damaged, but hopefully it is not fatal,” said Mr Alexander, who has been selected as an entrant for the Chelsea Flower Show this May said.

The snow will not kill the tree ferns – providing it all goes away in two to three days.

“From a gardener’s perspective, it is suffocation by the ice that is the problem.”

Although subzero on the Ring, the mercury has not moved lower than around -4 which is alright, as long as it does not last.

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