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Beware the Scairbhin

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 Late April snows on na Cruacha Dubha – the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains of Kerry…This is the view just after the heavy wintry showers passed through leaving a beautiful dusting on the highest mountains in Ireland. The attached stunning photo was taken as we descended via – Céim an Fhia or more commonly referred to as – The Heavenly Gates.

The Scairbhín (pronounced skara-veen) is an Irish weather phenomenon most definitely blowing through on last weeks guided Carrauntoohil treks and translates as ‘the rough month of the cuckoo’ from the phrase ‘garbh mi na gcuach’ and refers to the period comprising the last two weeks of April, and the first two weeks of May. These few weeks are often rampant with changeable extremes of weather patterns. As we often say, in Ireland you can experience 4 seasons in one day and this is most certainly true for the Scarbhín.

Our ancient ancestors who worked the land and were much more in tune with the seasons knew this as ‘the hunger time’ of the year. This is because they were busy planting and tending their crops and they believed that the scarbhin was natures way of ensuring the crops success by the initial ‘unseasonal’ warm weather allowing seeds to germinate, a sudden cold snap would then harden off the young seedlings and the following wind and gales would distribute the pollen and this all coincided with the return of the cuckoo. The bird often heard but seldom seen which adds to its mystique and therefore seen as something of a herald of spring and the milder weather yet to come but not yet arrived…
Beware the Scarbhín!