Booking a sun holiday in southern Europe to escape the dismal days of January is a tempting option. But Mother Nature often has other plans.

Some of Ireland’s worst snowstorms have struck in early January, including in 1917, 1947 and 1963. And woe betide a political leader found to be Awol during these weather emergencies.

In 1982, then taoiseach Garret FitzGerald was on a sun holiday in Tenerife when a 36-hour snowstorm swept across Ireland on January 8 and 9, leaving Michael O’Leary to earn the moniker minister for snow as communities were cut off from food supplies, power and transport. In January 2010, transport minister Noel Dempsey was dubbed “the Maltese snowman” for being on holiday in the island country during a big freeze.