RTÉ Cork visited Trinity College Library recently to film the Annals of Ulster (TCD MS 1282), one of the most well-known medieval Irish chronicles in M&ARL’s collections, as part of a new series ‘Four Seasons in One Day: Ireland’s Weather with John Creedon’.
Creedon’s journey will see him investigating stories from history, science, folklore, archaeology and modern life in order to examine how the weather has influenced our landscape and our nation. The programme looks at what causes our weather to be the way it is; how has it shaped us; and how we deal with it in our daily lives.
Examining the Annals of Ulster, Creedon interviewed Dr Francis Ludlow of Yale Climate & Energy Institute, Yale University (formerly of the School of Natural Sciences, TCD), who gave a fascinating insight into how, over 1200 years, Irish annalistic records have preserved records of extreme weather. Ludlow looked at the entry for the year 738 A.D. on folio 30r of the manuscript, which features the famous battle of Ath Senaig (Ballyshannon, Co. Kildare) between the Uí Neill King of Tara and the Laigin (or Leinstermen). This date corresponds to a very severe drought, registered in Irish oak tree-rings by very low growth. He also discussed how extreme weather events like this might contribute to increased violence in medieval Ireland. There are many reasons why any given year might have witnessed increased violence (e.g. existing or ongoing political tensions), but what the weather may contribute is an increase in these tensions by causing poor harvests and scarcity. Rival leaders might also see an opportunity to attack their weakened enemies during such years.
The first episode of this three-part series will be broadcast on Sunday 10 August 2014 on RTÉ ONE.
Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin