*Photograph: Ann O’Connell / Press 22
Ten cows were discovered lying ‘legs up’ in a field on Dunlicky Road, on Sunday June 14th, following a vicious thunderstorm that swept across the nation.
A status yellow thunder warning was issued by Met Eireann on Sunday for a total of 19 counties across the Republic. Little did West Clare farmer Michael Murray expect to discover that nine of his cows has been struck and killed by lightning, in what locals deemed a torrential thunderstorm of unfamiliar magnitude.
The UK Met Office provides essential lightning location data to Met Eireann, who then archive lightning strike detections on their website. The system is optimised to detect cloud to ground strikes and flashes rather than strikes between clouds, with the majority of lightning strikes occurring during this intra cloud activity. Ten to twenty percent of all lightning strikes over Ireland are cloud to ground strikes. An intense cluster of lightning strikes took hold of Clare at around 3pm in the afternoon.
A passer-by taking the coastal road to Kilkee, spotted the nine cows laying completely dormant within the field, remarking, “We were driving up from the Bridges of Ross towards Kilkee along the Dunlicky coast road. There was a lot of thunderstorm activity in the area at the time and the sky blackened all of a sudden. The rain was pouring down really heavy for about 20 minutes. Just after we passed Dunlicky Castle we saw the cows in the field. There were a few cars and men in there as well. I think it was nine milking cows we counted. They are all lying dead in the field some with their legs in the air.”
Michael Murray took to the airwaves on Clare FM to retell his shock at discovering ten dead cows following the intense lightning strikes.
“There were no trees, no nothing around it. It’s just right over the Atlantic, right beside a cliff. It was inside the middle of a field, one of them freak things. I never ever heard of a cow being killed by lightning. I mean you maybe would hear about lightning knocking down an ESB wire and the cow walking on it, but you would never hear about this like.”