uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Click here to find out more x
Post Reply  
Thread Tools Search this Thread
11-05-2020, 20:53   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 680

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.
Poulgorm is offline  
(3) thanks from:
11-05-2020, 21:05   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,062
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.
lottpaul is offline  
11-05-2020, 22:57   #3
Registered User
SouthWesterly's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 310
It's that sharp wind off the mountains.

Destroyed my apple crop last year
SouthWesterly is online now  
(2) thanks from:
11-05-2020, 23:01   #4
Registered User
Danzy's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 4,544
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.
Danzy is offline  
Thanks from:
11-05-2020, 23:12   #5
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,215
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.
Seamai is offline  
11-05-2020, 23:28   #6
Danno's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,391
I thought this was a reference to a cold northwesterly in early May...
Danno is online now  
Thanks from:
12-05-2020, 13:41   #7
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,062
Originally Posted by Danno View Post
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
lottpaul is offline  
Thanks from:
12-05-2020, 21:42   #8
Registered User
watlantic's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 51
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.

Last edited by watlantic; 12-05-2020 at 22:09.
watlantic is online now  
12-05-2020, 22:45   #9
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1,027
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
SeaBreezes is offline  
Thanks from:
12-05-2020, 23:49   #10
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,501
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.
hawkwing is offline  
(4) thanks from:
18-05-2020, 09:25   #11
Gaoth Laidir
Registered User
Gaoth Laidir's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 4,693
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").
Gaoth Laidir is offline  
18-05-2020, 09:54   #12
M.T. Cranium
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 11,030
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).
M.T. Cranium is offline  
18-05-2020, 19:37   #13
Oneiric 3
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,914
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.
Oneiric 3 is offline  
Thanks from:
19-05-2020, 09:18   #14
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 411
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.
coillsaille is offline  
Thanks from:
Post Reply

Quick Reply
Remove Text Formatting

Insert Image
Wrap [QUOTE] tags around selected text
Decrease Size
Increase Size
Please sign up or log in to join the discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Share Tweet