ROUND UP - Two metre drifts and areas in 'lockdown mode' around Laois after Storm Emma and Beast from the East

Leinster Express Reporters

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Snow round up story

Snow in Mountmellick on Thursday. Pic Denis Byrne

Storm Emma and the Beast from the East are continuing to cause problems for towns, villages and rural communities across county Laois, as the worst of the weather appears to have passed through the county.

Despite Met Eireann stating that the blizzard warnings have passed, the county is still in the grip of snow and ice. Snow has fallen heavily in Portlaoise throughout the morning, and while most main roads are passable with caution, secondary roads are subject to heavy drifts.

People around the county are still being urged to remain indoors.

The following is a view from different areas around the county. If your area is not mentioned below and then let us know the conditions in your locality by e-mailing news@leinsterexpress.ie

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In Portarlington, the main road to Portlaoise has been declared impassable by the county council, while Canice McCarthy, chairman of the local GAA club and a taxi driver in the town, gave an insight into conditions on the ground at Friday lunch time.

"It is easing off now, it is still snowing and gusting but it is starting to quieten down, but there is still a good cover of snow on the ground."

Laois County Councillor Aidan Mullins described the scene he witnessed on Friday as snow engulfed the town.

"Roads in town were passable with little traffic out. Most back roads and roads outside town were impassable. Most shops and supermarkets are closed with a few exceptions. 

"Paths are very dangerous. Reports of water problems and electricity but seem to be very localised," he told the Leinster Express.

Portarlington Lions Club member Willie Murphy said the weather was unbearable.

"I went out but came in quickly. You wouldn't stick it out there. I've never seen anything like it," he said on Friday at the storm's peak.

The local furniture business man said he hadn't been able to open his shop since Tuesday this week and doesn't expect to be back open until Tuesday of next week. He said there was two feet of snow in the yard of his shop.

"The town was at a standstill. There were very few moving around," he told the Leinster Express.

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Pat Kearns, Stradbally notes correspondent for the Leinster Express, said the main roads around the town were okay, but rural roads were still pretty bad.

He said snow is falling and it's windy. He said some local shops still closed and the majority of residents staying indoors.

The snow has forced the cancellation of Confirmation which has been refixed for Sunday march 11. Also rescheduled is the Women's World Day of Prayer for next Friday, March 9 in St Patrick's Church, Stradbally.

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Justin Kavanagh, an officer of the local GAA club in Rathdowney and a member of the local Fire Brigade as well, revealed that Thursday night was incident free in the area, but the weather has deteriorated on Friday.

"We got away light last night (Thursday), but it is snowing non-stop all morning here. The main road is passable with caution, but there is a lot of drifting on secondary roads, some of them are a metre, up to two metres, high.

"The town is basically closed, Dunnes Stores is closed and Super Valu had hoped to open at 1pm today, but that has been called off. People are heeding the advice to stay indoors, they are staying in as much as possible."

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The Leinster Express notes area correspondent for the Clonaslee, Annette Doolan, lives around three miles from Clonaslee.

"We have been snowed in since Wednesday...It has been blizzard like since last night (Thursday) and still is. A lot of drifting of snow around here," she said.

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Sheila Mahon is the Leinster Express notes area correspondent for the nearby Rosenallis area.

"Roads are impassable, high snow drifts reported on most roads. Only vehicle seen was a JCB on road, snow still falling with strong winds and wind chill tempatures about zero.

"Locals are concerned about flooding from the Slieve Blooms when temperatures rise," she said.

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Walter Hovendon in Ballylinan admitted the area had managed to dodge the worst of the weather.

"I left for work at a quarter to seven this morning, the roads were fine, and there has been no snow since. The main roads are grand, we had no snow last night, there was only a slight dusting."

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In Ballinakill, Adrian Fitzpatrick revealed the area was gone into 'lockdown mode' as they faced high levels of snow in the area.

"I've only seen one tractor pass my house since 11pm last night. I'm looking out my front window, and the walls in front of my house are four or five foot tall, and the snow is three-quarters of the way up them. We live close to Ballyraggett and all the shops there are closed as well."

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Larry Wall is a dairy farmer in Arles, and the weather had posed tough challenges for him.

"The main road is passable, but once you're off that it's a different story. I'm in farming and it's difficult to get a milkman in and out of the yard and to get water to the cows."

It was snowing in Arles on Friday, but Thursday night had passed without too much snowfall. "We escaped the worst of it last night, and it's snowing light enough today."

Mr Wall also detailed the difficulties the freezing weather has had on his milking enterprise. "We have a heater in the milking parlour to thaw out the pipes and we have that going, but we have cattle in sheds and pipes are frozen underground, so we have to had to run pipes over the ground to try to get water out to them."

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Michael G Phelan was in action trying to keep roads open in Ballacolla.

"Many roads in the area unpassable on Friday morning prompting locals to take to roads with agri loaders to clear the snow drifts," he said.

He said the road at Rathmakelly Cross, Ballacolla was completely blocked by a snow drift before being cleared by locals.

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Philip Sheppard of Sheppard's Auctioneers in Durrow painted a picture of a village that was brought to a standstill.

"Durrow was a ghost town," he declared to the Leinster Express.

The well known business man said the snow had accumulated in many parts of the village and the paths were almost unwalkable but this meant very few ventured outside.

He said the roads including the N77 Portlaoise to Kilkenny road were 'not good at all'. He singled out Susan Lawlor, the owner of the Gala shop, for praise. He said her's was the only place that opened and allowed people buy essentials.


Durrow florist and Leinster Express notes correspondent Martin Lawlor also painted a grim picture except for own very happy event.

"The snow is so deep that in my life I have never seen so much of it. I had to put flowers up in the Catholic Church in Ballinakill for a wedding on Friday.

"The roads were lethal and the drifts on the Ballinakill/Abbeyleix road were over ditch high and very little room to pass . real movie scenes," he said.

He said the woman who got married was Sarah Jackman, of Iron Mills, Ballinakill and the groom was from Castlecomer in Kilkenny.

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Laois County Council says that if you require the assistance of the emergency services please dial 999. The local number for the Severe Weather Communication Centre is 1890837273. Emergency shelter is available on request.

There are scenic scenes in the Mountains as captured below by Carmel Dunne Gorman of Glenbarrow and by Sheila Dunne of the Catholes in Rosenallis.