The Wexford earthquake of 1892.

On Tuesday, the 18th of March, 2014, multiple reports began to spread about the occurrence of an “earthquake” in County Wexford. That evening, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter became alight with people excitedly talking about the tremor that they had just experienced.

At first, people assumed that the low rumbling noise had come from a passing truck or some sort of heavy machinery. Others thought that a thunderstorm was raging in the distance. However, as time went on and more and more Facebook statuses were posted, it soon became clear that the earth beneath the region had actually shook for a moment or two.

Although Irish seismograph readings were inconclusive, it later emerged that a station in Wales had picked up a faint reading around the same time that people in Wexford had started to report the tremor.

In Nicky Rossiter’s The Little Book of Wexford, a similar event is mentioned. On Wednesday, the 17th of August, 1892, two tremors were felt in Wexford and Castlebridge. Reports from the time mention a “loud bang” and a “vibration”. The two tremors, which occurred five minutes apart, caused houses to “shake”. In some cases, dishes were damaged. A Wexford-based solicitor by the name of Charles Taylor noted that his newspaper had shook and that he had heard a noise “like a large cart passing”.

On that autumn night in 1892, people living across the St. George’s Channel in Wales experienced such an earthquake that it caused many of them to flee from their homes in terror!

It is worth noting that seismic activity in the area is well-documented. According to the British Geological Survey (BGS), the region around Wales has experienced its fair share of tremors over the decades. In a report that was published back in 1986, the BGS stated that there were 70 earthquakes measuring more than 3.5 on the Richter scale had occurred between 1727 and 1984. Fifteen of these managed to reach a reading of 4.5 or more on the Richter scale.

The parallels between 2014 and 1892 are interesting. In both cases, the people of Wexford mistook the tremors for passing traffic – and in both cases, the tremors were corroborated by events in Wales. In Rossiter’s The Little Book of Wexford, he also mentions how the tremor of 1892 became the main topic of local conversation at the time, with many people recalling an even earlier incident that had occurred back in 1862!

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