The ‘Little Ice Age’, 1450-1850

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The Little Ice Age: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow (Winter)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow (Winter) (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

The Little Ice Age refers to the period ca. 1450 to 1850. During this time, there were ‘lower temperatures and climatic conditions, with much snow, cold spells and ice, and significant glacier re-advances’ (Hickey, 2010, p. 78).

The start of the eighteenth century coincides with the severest part of the Little Ice Age.  The year 1709 has been described as Europe’s ‘deep freeze‘.  In June 1728 the River Liffey was iced over.  Even given the different climatic conditions, this was an extremely unusual occurrance. Hickey believes it may have been influenced by the eruption of the Öræfajökull volcano in Iceland (2010, p. 80).

However, for those living in Ireland, undoubtedly the worst years of the Little Ice Age were 1739 – 1741, a period is known by historians as the Great Freeze and Famine.


>> Ireland’s Great Freeze and Famine, 1739-41