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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Busting Irish Myths: # 6: Dark, Cold and Wet

This is the sixth installment in a series about Irish myths. After returning from Ireland, I discovered many Americans had misconceptions about Ireland, picturing it the way it had been two hundred years ago - people living in castles or little white cottages, spotty electricity, terrible food, and poor medical care. Refer to the posts listed on the right side of this blog for all the blogs in this series.

Today, I'm researching whether Ireland is as dark, cold and wet as many believe it to be.


For the hours of darkness, I compared four dates between Dublin and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: the winter solstice, summer solstice, and those in between - spring and fall.

Winter solstice is considered the shortest day of sunlight in the entire year. On December 21, 2014, the sun rose at 8:38 AM and set at 4:08 in Dublin, leaving only 7 hours and 30 minutes of daylight hours.

Winter solstice in Myrtle Beach found the sunrise at 7:16 AM and sunset at 5:11, for a total of 9 hours and 54 minutes of daylight hours - roughly 2.5 more hours of daylight than Dublin.

However, when we compare the summer solstice (June 21) Dublin received 17 hours of daylight compared to Myrtle Beach at 14 hours, 23 minutes. In Dublin, the sun rose at 4:56 AM and set at 10:57 PM, compared to Myrtle Beach's sunrise at 6:05 AM and sunset at 8:29 PM.

For the spring I chose March 21, the midway point between the winter and summer solstice. In Dublin, the sun rose at 6:23 AM and set at 6:40 PM, while in Myrtle Beach the sun rose at 7:16 and set at 7:28, leaving them both with 12 hours of daylight.

For the autumn, I chose September 21, again the midway point between summer and winter. In Dublin, the sun rose at 7:10 AM and set at 7:25 PM and in Myrtle Beach, the sun rose at 7:03 AM and set at 7:13 PM - they were almost identical.


When you look at Ireland's latitude, you might think they are extremely cold in the winter with lots of ice and snow. Comparing their latitude with the Western Hemisphere, for example, they are in line with parts of lower Canada. However, due to the Atlantic Ocean's influence, Ireland's weather is very temperate and it does not fluctuate much year-round.

The Irish like to say that there are four seasons in every day. It might be warm one hour and colder the next, dry one moment and raining the next. But when you look at the statistics, the average daily high in Ireland during the winter months is 43 degrees. In the summer, it is 65 degrees. That means their temperature only varies about 20-25 degrees year 'round.

Compare that to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the high in January in 2014 hovered around 53 degrees - only 10 degrees warmer than Dublin, Ireland. In June, it was 87 degrees - more than 20 degrees warmer.

It's said that in Ireland, it always feels like early spring to late spring, depending on the time of year.


I also compared the rainfall in Dublin, Ireland with the rainfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In Dublin during 2014, they received 28.8 inches of rain.

In Myrtle Beach in 2014, they received 51.4 inches of rain.

That means Myrtle Beach actually received almost double the amount of rainfall as Dublin, Ireland!

I found that the rain in Ireland tended to move very quickly through, due to the wind currents off the ocean. It very rarely came down hard, though I have not yet been there in the winter months - that will change soon, and I'll report back. Most of the time, it was a mist or a light drizzle, and those times when it was more, it lasted only a few minutes.