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  • 11-05-2020 8:53pm
    Registered Users Posts: 776 ✭✭✭

    Has anyone come across that word? What does the word mean?

    I used to hear that expression where I grew up in West Cork. I think it refers to the last 10 days of April and the first 10 days of May - when you could get a cold (often wet) spell of weather. It was referred to as the last kick of Winter, before the Summer heat takes over.

    Since I left West Cork, I have never heard of the expression and nobody I have mentioned it to have ever heard it (mainly Cork City people).

    Is it a term just used in West Cork, or is it more widespread?

    Just curious.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭lottpaul

    Very common in west Kerry at least - scairbhín na gcuach (cuckoo), bíonn sé fuar agus te. We always measure it from mid April to mid May - people will always refer to sudden changes in the weather - temperature especially - being because/part of the scairbhín. Come next Friday (May 15th) it'll be over and the folklore is that warmer weather is here for the summer. :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,445 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

    It's that sharp wind off the mountains.

    Destroyed my apple crop last year

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,233 ✭✭✭✭Danzy

    Heard it years ago in North Cork.

    It's a good sign of the summer.

    Repeat of 2018 likely and going by drying conditions so far, maybe exceeded.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,250 ✭✭✭Seamai

    Cork city here, I first heard the term 7 or 8 years ago on a wild wet day in early May, one guy shouting "Scairbhín weather isn't it?" To another. My curiosity got the better of me and had to look it up, one of the articles said that tillage farmers maintained that the extremes common during that mid April to mid May period are what young crops need to toughen them. I got sunburned in the garden on Saturday, yesterday was windy, and tonight it is 1 or 2 degrees above freezing so it's typical Scairbhín weather.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,913 ✭✭✭Danno

    I thought this was a reference to a cold northwesterly in early May...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭lottpaul

    Danno wrote: »
    I thought this was a reference to a cold northwesterly in early May...

    It may be in places, but around here at least it refers to any cold snap in late April/early May; I've never heard it used just for one particular wind but then conditions vary so much from place to place that a bit of variety and difference is to be expected :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 155 ✭✭watlantic

    During my time in 'Wesht West Cork' I was told by the old folks that it was always a very cold and strong to gale force gusty easterly wind and most people reckoned it was blowing in late April or early May. Indeed it did when I lived there and often brought rain, even sleet in the mountains. According to many locals "Shcaraveen" is an anglicised version of the Irish phrase 'garbh shion na gcuach', which in English is "the rough weather of the cuckoo". The Irish term gradually became "garbh shion", then "Garaveen" and, finally, "Scaraveen."
    This nasty easterly wind is feared and hated by both farmers and fishermen even today, and folklore has it that it is nature's way of punishing the cuckoo for its misdeeds, hence it is often blowing after the first cuckoo's calls are heard.
    The term ''scaraveen'' is used in western parts of Kerry, too, and people there will know what you mean if you mention it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭SeaBreezes

    And extreme weather Europe spoke about the ice-saints when discussing this cold snap too..
    I had never heard of either before, very interesting thank you!!0

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,803 ✭✭✭hawkwing

    Seanríoch around here is the skinning of the old cow--the last kick of winter which is a belt of severe cold anytime from mid April onwards.
    Mentions in Irish Folklore -
    There have been numerous mentions of an Bó Riabhach or the brindled cow in Irish folklore throughout the years. In Irish folklore when harsh weather conditions continued from March into April, it was said that March borrowed days from the month of April. This story was illustrated in the popular Irish tale, An tSean-Bó Riabhach.

    As the story goes, an old brindle cow begins boasting that not even the harsh weather of March could kill her. This angered the month of March, who in turn, borrowed three days off the month of April. Further harsh weather ensued, leading to the death and skinning of the brindle cow. There are many, very similar, variations of this story circulating, with only slight differences.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,219 ✭✭✭Gaoth Laidir

    Never heard the word in my life but it makes sense to have a term for it alright. (For non-Irish-speakers here the pronunciation is "shkariveen").

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,321 ✭✭✭✭M.T. Cranium

    I remember reading in Hubert Lamb's book that the Ice Saints were considered to be May 11, 12 and 13; legend held that it often turned cold then. Not sure if it was based on Julian calendar however, if so, that would really be around May 21 to 23 (as the Julian calendar was advanced ten days by European countries in the 16th century).

    Oddly enough Toronto has a much lower record maximum for May 13th than most other days in May, which is one reason why the idea stuck in my memory (still has that same rather lame record high fifty years later).

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,235 ✭✭✭Oneiric 3

    Can't say I have ever heard of this either, but considering that the term seems to almost exclusively Munster based, that would be understandable.

    Those dates mentioned above are interesting, as here in Ireland, easterly winds are at their most probable (on average) to occur between about the 11th and 17th (of May) above any other time in the year, which would mean that Munster, lying closer the low pressure systems, would be more prone to showers or pivoting or 'backdoor' weather fronts that would bring strong winds, cold temps and plenty of rain.

    Anecdotally speaking, but it would seem be during this (or around) same period of the year that the weather here in Connacht is at its best.

    New Moon

  • Registered Users Posts: 526 ✭✭✭coillsaille

    I heard it often growing up in Irish speaking Conamara. In the Connacht dialect here it's "garbhán na gcuach" which translates as the rough spell of the cuckoo - "garbh" being the adjective for rough. Obviously "scairbhín" must be the Munster Irish version.