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Kilkenny’s weatherman gives his forecast

Darren Hassett talks to Niall Dollard about his passion for meteorology and his daily routine of recording the weather here

Niall Dollard was born and bred in Kilkenny and worked originally as an engineer in Limerick and then trained as a teacher.

He eventually returned with his family to Kilkenny and is currently teaching in Mooncoin, but in his spare time; he is also the county’s weatherman.

Speaking to the Kilkenny People, he said he developed an interest in meteorology from a young age.

He said: “As a kid, I always liked geography and took up an interest in the weather. When I was about 14, I got my first max/min thermometer.

“As it turned out, it was my older brother Kyran who went on to pursue a career in meteorology with Met Éireann but that did not stop me from keeping up my hobby.”

Niall says his passion for weather was only a “casual hobby” up to 2007 and then it became a more determined one when it was announced that the Kilkenny Met Station would be closing down, after over 50 years of service.

Niall said: “A lot of people (like me) were disappointed to hear the station was going. As my site is quite close to the old Met Station, I wondered what if I set up my own station using the proper equipment?

“So ably assisted by my brother, we set up the weather station. We ran it in parallel with the old Met Station for 11 months and were able to confirm that the temperatures coming from both stations were almost identical.”

In 2008 he also set up an electronic Automatic Weather Station, which runs side by side with the official instruments and he set up then to display the live details on the internet, available to all the public.

Describing his daily routine from a weather point of view in terms of taking readings, measurements and updating the website on top of sending the data to Met Éireann, Niall said: “In 2010, I volunteered to become a climatological observer for Met Éireann.

"This was a bigger commitment because it meant taking readings 365 days per year at 9am, hail, rain or snow!

"It takes about 10 minutes to do the observation but I have been ably assisted by both my brother, Kyran, and special mention to physics student, Brian Gilligan, from Loughboy who has also helped me out on occasions.

“I send a daily text to Met Éireann on the daily rainfall/snowfall details and also a more comprehensive weather report of all the daily readings, each month.

“The electronic sensors automatically update my website but it does need to be monitored because of power failures, battery run downs etc.

“I like to add articles of interest and photographs to the website and I have built up a big archive now of over 10 years work.”

Niall records official readings of rainfall and snowfall, maximum and minimum screen air temperatures, grass minimum temperature, soil and earth temperatures at six different depths (down to 1.2 metres) all at his site near the River Nore at Greenshill.

It is a vital service he’s providing for the county and for the country as a whole.

Niall addressed the recent spate of extreme weather in Kilkenny, from ex-Hurricane Ophelia to the more recent cold snap brought by Storm Emma.

He was asked if such weather is likely to become more commonplace and Niall added: “Yes I agree, extreme weather is happening with increasing frequency. Our planet is warming. Some parts like the Arctic are rapidly warming as the sea ice melts.

"Kilkenny is warming too. Last February was a cold month but we have far more milder than normal months than colder ones. Storms and floods are the big concerns. Living as we do, on the edge of Europe, we often bear the brunt.”

For information on Kilkenny’s daily weather, or over a longer period of time, go to:

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