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Time zones and Ireland

This is a response to dherblay's fascinating post about time zones and autopope's Singularity Sky. (Hat-tip, as so often, to yhlee.)

Ireland was 25 minutes behind Great Britain until 1916, "Dublin Time" being based on the meridian of Dunsink Observatory. In the wake of the Easter Rising of that year the clocks went back only 35 minutes in the autumn rather than an hour, thus putting Ireland on the same time as England, Scotland and Wales. In 1919 a couple of the early meetings of Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary parliament, kept minutes in both standard and "Irish time", but this did not survive into the era of independence.

Once independence had arrived and the civil war was won, the Dáil got around to passing a new Summer Time Act in 1923. The debate, precisely 83 years ago today, featured proposals for going back to the old Irish summer time in summer only, and also for local councils to possibly opt in or opt out.

In the 1960s Ireland decided that it would be on Central European Time in the summer, and Central European Time minus an hour in winter. Completely different from the UK, which of course is on Greenwich Mean Time in winter and British Summer Time in summer.

The choice of time is obviously political in other parts of Europe. the entirety of the Benelux countries and almost all of France are west of the 7°30' longitude which should really be the cut-off point for Central European Time; most of Spain, indeed, is west rather than east of Greenwich, but they have all opted to go with the Germans, Swiss, Italians and neighbours further to the east.

The 45° line, which should give you three hours' difference from the UK, cuts through Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, but after independence all three kept the Soviet practice of putting the clocks another hour ahead anyway. After the 2003 revolution in Georgia, President Saakashvili moved the country an hour to the west, so they are now in line with Moscow and Iraq, and the shift at the Turkish border is only one hour instead of two. (This doesn't seem to have been picked up by on-line sources.)

There is a nice animation of world time zones here.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
tamaranth
Apr. 12th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
I have a very vague recollection of reading (possibly in Cecil Torr's Small Talk in Wreyland) that In The Olden Days, Truro was 12 minutes ahead of London, or maybe 12 minutes behind, to reflect the actual times of sunrise / sunset a couple of degrees further west. Times were standardised with the coming of the railways.
oldsma
Apr. 12th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
There is a recent book about the technical and political problems in getting the current system of time zones set up: Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps by Peter Louis Galison.

MAO
mizkit
Apr. 12th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
*worried eyebrows* Now I'm no longer certain what time it is where I am! :)
leedy
Apr. 13th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
Ireland was 25 minutes behind Great Britain until 1916, "Dublin Time" being based on the meridian of Dunsink Observatory.

REALLY? I had no idea!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 24th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
Dublin Time
Fascinating stuff, Nicholas. I was made aware of the existence of Dublin Time only in the past month, when somebody wrote into The Irish Times mentioning it. Your article appears in the first page of a Google search for "Dublin Time" and "25 Minutes". I'm still wondering, though, about the origins of Dublin Time, and indeed time setting in early modern/modern Ireland. Do you know any books on this topic? Beir bua!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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