By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
On Monday October 16, 2017, one of the worst hurricanes that Ireland has ever seen swept across the country. Hurricane Ophelia caused major property damage, thousands of people lost power, and it took the lives of three people. The worst of the weather was seen in the southwest side of the country, but across Ireland, everyone had to be prepared to face a possible category five storm.
With a flight set to leave on Monday night, I just happened to be in Dublin while all of this was happening. It was not until late Sunday that the severity of the upcoming storm became apparent. The four friends that were traveling with me and I had to figure out how to get back to school in Winchester.
Hoping that we would be able to catch an earlier flight before the storm came to Dublin, we left for the airport early Monday morning. Unless we wanted to pay an astronomical fee, we could not reschedule our booking until our flight had been officially cancelled. By the time our flight got cancelled later that afternoon, it was too late to make any other flight out. We spent several hours waiting around in the airport with no knowledge of if we would get out or not. We were later informed that only a few flights went out of Dublin that morning, and all afternoon and evening flights were cancelled.
To make matters worse, all public transportation in Dublin stopped at noon that day, so even if we left the airport, we would have to pay for a taxi. We were college students on a budget, so taxis were not an option. It seemed as though we would have to stay a night in the airport, where we had already spent close to 10 hours already. Eventually, every restaurant and shop in the airport closed for the day, which were going to be our only source for food while we were there. At this point, we had no idea of what to do, and we worried that conditions could get much worse as the chaotic situation at the airport unfolded.
After almost 12 hours in the airport and waiting in mile long lines, we were able to reschedule the flight. We assumed that we would get a flight the next morning, as the storm in Dublin was not nearly as bad as it had been predicted. We were starving and exhausted, and our patience was wearing. It turned out that we would not be getting a flight out until Wednesday morning—just our luck.
Fortunately, we received accommodations for two nights that were paid for by the airline. We waited in line for over an hour to figure out what hotel we were going to be sent to. Eventually. we got to leave the airport that had been our home for the past 12 hours.
The place we stayed ended up being a nice 4-star hotel in central Dublin, which was not what we were expecting to get from a budget airline. After the worst experience that I have ever had in an airport, all I could think about was food and sleep. Luckily, this hotel provided us with both.
It took awhile to set in that we would be getting an extra day in Dublin because all we could think about was getting back to our dorm. In the situation, it was hard to see the silver lining—we got a chance to spend one more day in the city that was great to us…up until Monday.
Tuesday’s weather brought sunshine throughout the day, it seemed as if the hurricane had never happened. It was the calm after the storm. The Dublin area was lucky to not get affected too badly, the only weather it brought was strong winds and a tiny bit of rain. The main issue was that Ireland was not equipped to face such a menacing storm. It was the worst storm that the country had seen in over 50 years.
At some point in their lives, I suppose every traveller goes through a nightmare experience at the airport, and this certainly was mine. I hope this experience at Dublin will be the worst it could get, as I do not believe that I could take spending half a day in an airport ever again. If anything, I learned to be more prepared for the worst case scenario while traveling, as you never know when things could go wrong. All in all, one could say that we did not have “the luck of the Irish.”