BLAME it on the weather man – Met Eireann's inaccurate forecasts last weekend led to a nationwide closure of schools, a decision later reversed as fears for the worst began to thaw.
In the run-up to last weekend, forecasters had the public bracing themselves for heavy snow and icy conditions with the potential to cause calamity.
But for much of the country on Sunday's d-day, rain simply turned the previous night's heavy snowfalls into rivers of slushy water. A far cry from the three or four inches of snow that had been confidently predicted.
How did they get it so wrong? Well, it wasn't all that wrong according to Met Eireann, which says we came closer to the icy impasse than many people think.
This was one of the coldest winters in recent history, according to the statistics, with temperatures plummeting to levels not seen in a decade.
While the nationwide blanket of white didn't quite materialise to anticipated levels, this was simply due to a slight difference between the predicted temperatures and those that actually occurred.
"It comes down to a degree or two," said Gerald Fleming, head of weather forecasting at Met Eireann and a member of the National Emergency Response Coordination Committee (NERCC), formed to cope with the ongoing, post-Christmas threat.
"In the UK they were forecasting snow for the Sunday and they also experienced more in the way of rain. The temperature just rose by a couple of degrees, turning the snow into rain."
While for thousands the weather forecast was extremely inaccurate – disappointed children were putting their sleds away while others shuffled through rivers of slushy ice – Met Eireann insists this was only true of the east coast.
But when that all-important and subsequently criticised decision to close schools was being made that Friday, the general belief was that the country would be snow-bound to some degree and safety must take precedence.
"I would say that from our point of view, for Met Eireann and all the people sitting around the table of that coordination committee, the first priority is the safety of citizens. We err on the side of caution and we wouldn't apologise for that," said Fleming.
"We effectively had a thaw because the rain started to clear the snow but that didn't happen from Kildare westwards where it stayed the same and the forecast was correct.
"Snow is always a marginal call in this country because if we get it, it's always that degree or so that makes the difference because we don't really get those low temperatures.
"Normally if we get snow it's because the temperature is just on the wrong side of zero.
"It's always one of these calls that has a bigger chance of being wrong than the storms or the rains that make up our normal day-to-day weather."
That marginality led to a somewhat controversial decision to close the country's 4,000 schools last Friday week following a meeting of the NERCC.
Education minister Batt O'Keeffe said that while some might find themselves in a position to open, the decision was taken to close in the interest of health and safety.
The weather forecast at that stage warned that further snow threatened Munster and Leinster, with falls of up to 10 centimetres expected on Sunday and Monday. A long-awaited thaw was also elusive according to the forecasts, which said the country wouldn't see anything significant for seven days. And then came the thaw.
"I can't comment on [whether the decision to close schools was wrong]. We gave a forecast at the committee [on that] Friday," said Fleming.
"There was a representative from the Department of Education there and he went back to his department and they made their decisions.
"The danger wasn't so much the snow as ice. It wasn't as if people were digging themselves out of snowdrifts. When the weather changed and it got a little less cold it would take a little longer for the roads to thaw."
This 'err on the side of caution' approach was mirrored by the Department of Education which said it believed closing the schools was the prudent move on the back of forecasts.
Early last week, many schools were expected to reopen with minister O'Keeffe deciding to place the decision back in the hands of individual boards of management. The u-turn was rounded upon by Fine Gael.
"The minister's handling of this issue has been less than sure-footed and he snookered himself by taking a very inflexible position on this issue," the party's education spokesman Brian Hayes said after it became clear some schools could reopen.
"This incident shows that, on the rare occasion that anyone in the government actually makes a decision, they can't even be trusted to make the right one."
But the department insists it was the right move and one that had the initial support of the education community. "The weather forecast is not an exact science; they had predicted heavy snowfall on the Sunday which posed a threat to kids and then it didn't happen, so the minister made the decision to reverse that," an official said.
"He changed his mind and in both cases he made a very sensible and rational decision based on the information from Met Eireann."
While the shift in just a couple of degrees had a dramatic effect on conditions and on the government's decision to shut down the education system, what cannot be disputed is that the country faced a monumental and highly unusual cold snap.
"We have been trying to compare this cold spell with cold spells in the past," said Fleming. "We had a very cold period in 1982 but that really only lasted for a week. In 1978/79 there was a lot of cold weather and in 1962/63 that was really the longest with nine or 10 weeks."
Comparisons were also drawn with the great blizzard of 1947, a bad year which 'suspended' spring for the farming community.
Weather statistics from various recording devices around the country showed the lowest temperatures recorded anywhere for 10 years. The lowest was at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnell, Co Dublin which showed -12.4°C on 6 January.
"That equalled the previous lowest at the station recorded in 1979. It was the lowest at any of the stations since December, 2000," said an official at Met Eireann.
"There were other very low temperatures recorded. In Carlow on the 7 January it was -12.1?C, while Claremorris, Co Mayo, recorded -11.6?C on 9 January.
"For the period of the 12 days so far in January, mean temperatures are about four to six degrees below what we expect for the month.
"At a number of our stations, it's been the coldest since January 1963 but obviously there is more than half the month to go so the mean temperatures could increase or change.
"It was a combination of everything from mid-December when the really cold weather began. In a lot of areas the temperature didn't rise above zero during the day which has led to a lot of these problems with frozen pipes. It also takes a long time to thaw out once the milder weather does come."