A True Fireside Tale – The Night of the Big Wind – Oíche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)

This January 6th and 7th will mark the 174th anniversary of the “Night of the Big Wind,” known in the Irish language as “Oíche na Gaoithe Móire.” This ferocious storm was one of the worst in our history; there had been nothing like it for all of 300 years and no one was prepared for the widespread devastation and death that it would cause. These days people complain of inaccurate forecasting, although our sophisticated weather forecasting would normally tell us of an impending hurricane of such magnitude. Such hurricanes nowadays are given names like “Charlie,” “Katrina” and “Irene” long before they reach our shores.

Oíche na Gaoithe Móire began on the night of January 6th, traditionally known in Ireland today as “Little Christmas” and in the rest of the world as Epiphany. In those days Ireland had no border and this storm certainly knew no borders for it raged through many counties destroying property, churches and even great houses and large buildings to be deroofed and a total of 42 ships to be wrecked at sea. According to Irish folklore, Judgement Day would occur on the Feast of Epiphany and as the severe storm raged on in the darkness of the night, many began to believe that the end of the world was near. Indeed for around 300 people who lost their lives, that storm meant the end of the world for them as they were swept into eternity.

All around the country the vicious winds wreaked havoc, from the houses of Armagh to the houses of Athlone. In Ballinasloe great woods were felled; Belfast saw fatalaties and much destruction; in Carrickfergus a tree in a graveyard was said to have been uprooted, forcing many bodies to the surface; most property in Castlebar was affected; Drogheda had never seen such devastation in its history; Dublin saw death and terrible destruction; houses were burned down in Kilkenny; barely a house was left standing in Longford, while places as diverse as Mullingar, Sligo, Tralee and Waterford were badly struck.

Such severe weather has always been most unusual in Ireland. We complain mostly of our dreary grey skies and boring constant drizzle but we rarely face any extreme weather conditions, yet like the city of Babylon referred to in Revelation 18, in just one hour we could be “made desolate.”

Yes, even our advanced weather forecasting may not announce the reality of  the fact that some day every island will “flee away” and the mountains will not be found. (Rev. 16v20)

Jesus said: “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16v2&3)

Jesus also said: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24v42) Do you know Him today? If not – His desire is that you repent and trust in Him who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Do you profess to be His servant today? Be not like “that evil servant” who shall say in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” (Matthew 24v48) “The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Verses 50&51)

There are many things in this world which have the potential to make His servants angry – but we must never lose our love for souls and for reaching the lost. “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

Whatever injustices you face today, that have been caused by life’s evil winds, if you are His servant, leave it all in His hands and He will put matters right, “for vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12v19)

Ferocious storms created by the evil one may seek to destroy us spiritually, but there is nothing that cannot be vanquished by our Saviour’s rebuke.

“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8v26&27)

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