Limerick city escapes the worst of the Big Freeze

THE city has "sufficient" supplies of salt to grit priority roads during this stretch of freezing weather, with a further supply of salt expected to be delivered on Saturday.

THE city has "sufficient" supplies of salt to grit priority roads during this stretch of freezing weather, with a further supply of salt expected to be delivered on Saturday.

In County Limerick, salt supplies are running critically low and water rationing has been introduced.

However, the adverse weather conditions appear to be having less of a impact in the city.

Vincent Murray, senior engineer with the roads department at City Hall, said supplies of salt and grit were being conserved for priority areas to ensure ease of travel to and from crucial areas such as hospitals, Garda stations and public transport.

Many crews were being dispatched across the city as early as 5am to tackle hazardous road conditions. Routes in Priority 1, 2 and 3 areas were all being gritted, to varying degrees, he confirmed.

The city's salt supply was expected to last for up to one week, he said, and was "constantly being replenished by the National Roads Authority. There would be a shortage if we salted every area in the city, but we have to prioritise."

The water supply in households across the county has been affected, with water rationing introduced in some areas from 9pm to 7am as the main water supply has begun to freeze.

Limerick City Council has also issued advise to householders on water use, which can be viewed at The public are urged to conserve water as much as possible.

However, the 'Big Freeze' has already shown signs of thawing and daytime temperatures are predicted to get slightly warmer, rising to six degrees by Friday. A further thaw is expected on Saturday.

Many schools across Limerick have been forced to closed within the past week, but transport services for the most part are operating as normal, with the exception of some minor disruptions.

Most Bus ireann services are operating around the country; with some delays and diversions in affected areas.

Only one late service from Limerick to Dublin was cancelled this week due to deteriorating road and weather conditions, with most disruptions affecting the north-east. Passengers are advised to visit for updates.

Irish Rail said most of its services were continuing, but services to and from Limerick and Cork were running 30 minutes late due to frozen points at Portlaoise on Wednesday morning.

Shannon Airport remains open and is operating as normal, but passengers were advised to check with their carrier for latest details as flights can still be impacted due to weather conditions at other airports. A number of flights from Dublin and Knock were diverted to Shannon in the past week.

Weather conditions may be bad news for motorists, but there is a silver lining for some traders in the city, with shops reporting a rise in the sale of essential items for winter warmers – gloves, scarves, boots, and hats – while hot chocolates, Irish coffees and hot whiskies are the order of the day to warm the body.

“We are just up the walls,” said one of the store managers in Penney’s on O’Connell Street. “Hats, scarves and similar items are just walking out the door. The dry weather is helping us a lot. If it’s raining people tend to go to the Crescent Shopping Centre,” she said.

Maria Kelly, chief executive of Limerick Chamber of Commerce, said she was thankful Limerick had been spared the worst of heavy snowfalls, with city businesses already facing a myriad of challenges to survive.

“We need a busy shopping period at Christmas for traders, and a lot of people have said recently that they’ve made the conscious decision to come and support the city. Hopefully, more people will adopt that mindset. There is nowhere nicer than a city centre at Christmastime,” said Ms Kelly.