Should we call time on Greenwich Mean Time?

Okay, this is a bit of a strange one. North Korea has announced this week that from August 15th they will return to Korean Mean Time which means putting their clocks back 30 mins. The time zone was changed by Japan during their occupation of Korea just before the Second World War.

Not to compare ourselves with North Korea but many people do not know that until 1916, the island of Ireland operated under Dublin Mean Time which had our clocks 25 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time.

According to the the Dunsink Observatory, the Sun rose 25 minutes and 21 seconds later than at Greenwich in Ireland than in Britain and this is were Dublin Mean Time came from.

When it was changed there was opposition from farmers, politicians, local councils and various business groups.

I know this is was debated in July 2013 but should we not go back to either Dublin Mean Time or go to a time zone that is one hour behind GMT in order to reflect our slightly different position in the world?

It would put us closer to the United States (one of our major trading partners) and not distance ourselves that much from Britain.

Interested in your thoughts Sluggerverse….


  • AndyB

    The problem with Dublin Mean Time (and remembering that the rest of Ireland is further back) is that it’s not half an hour. The advantage of keeping it at an even number of hours is that it’s easier to calculate local time.

    Ireland was aligned Dublin Mean Time in 1880, but as in GB was mainly due to the arrival of the railways, which couldn’t change their clocks every station.

    The arguments against are that a move of an hour would bring us an hour further away from continental Europe, including Portugal which is further west than us but uses GMT, meaning that there would only be six trading hours in common rather than the current seven, and also we would lose a trading hour currently held in common with the US – currently we share 2pm-5pm UTC with New York, but 4-5pm UTC would be lost. It wouldn’t bring us into overlap with the far east and Australia, so there’d be no trading benefit.

    Other arguments include the 15th meridian west being in the middle of the Atlantic and only passing through Greenland, Iceland, and the very far west of Africa – only parts of Ireland as far west as Dingle reach the 10th meridian (NI is between the 8th and 5th), and because the Western day is oriented around about 3pm rather than midday, the loss of brightness in the evenings would be a factor (and one which regularly sees demands for the UK to move forward by an hour to match the rest of Europe)

  • Turgon

    This is quite an impressive piece of “Ourselves alone-ism” and an equally impressive attempt to “rid ourselves of Britishness” by Dr. McCann. It surpasses even some of the daftest ideas of Sinn Fein.

    It would mean effectively that the sun would rise 25 minutes earlier – it would not actually but because the clock is further back it would effective mean this.

    That would make the RoI fractionally (and only fractionally) closer to the USA but manage to make it more different to the (UK – clearly Dr. McCann’s plan) but also make it more different to Europe.

    Impressive that such is Dr. McCann’s hatred for Britain he is willing to make life more difficult for the RoI’s trade etc. not only with the UK but also with mainland Europe. Even DeValera did not think of this. In terms of small minded pettiness it is truly outstanding.

  • Jag

    I think we should just abolish August, the silly season or sommerloch or whatever. Get the performing monkey politicians back to work, so we’d have something worthwhile commenting on.

  • David McCann

    Erm, Turgon one country can have more than one time zone. America, Canada, Russia, China and Australia all work very well with different time zones. Last time I checked they are still pretty united, I mean Californians who are three hours behind Washington are still just as American.

    Our FDI rates are also mostly from the USA, so move closer acually helps trade and doesn’t hurt Britain as it is only a little bit away. It really benefits farmers who have a bit more daylight to do their work.

    Btw, My mother and all my aunts are English, they all live in London, so your petty little personal jibe is totally void.

  • Graeme

    Such a move would offer nothing more than a case study in quixotism for future political textbooks.

  • David McCann

    Andy, this is a brilliant reposte and very informative!

  • Turgon

    Thinking about all those countries you mention. The critical difference is that they are all much, much bigger than the countries of the British Isles. Try looking at a map with something other than Ireland on it. You can find them on the internet.

    Then try looking at the size of time zones on maps of the world.

    Proposing a time zone unique to yourself is utterly petty.

    Trying to justify it by comparing a small island near a somewhat larger (but still small) island off the coast of Western Europe demonstrates that not merely are you petty but are either dishonest or else cannot comprehend geography.

    This is pathetic from someone supposedly well educated. The fact that you have relatives in England does not make you any less a small minded “ourselves aloner” even more impressively than many a Sinn Feiner.

    What next: some maidens dancing at the crossroads?

  • David McCann

    Sorry Turgon, the only person who brought our sectarian petty squabble into this was YOU!

    This isn’t something to detach ourselves from Britain, I don’t think any country is formed solely on the basis on a time zone. Christ above!

    I solely spoke about economic issues surrounding it and it is was motivated by the current debate in Korea. You sir, brought down to nationality, not me.

    I spoke about the farmers etc who opposed the orginal change, Andy has a brlliant reposte to aspects of that. His reposte is something that should be considered but that is clearly above you.

  • Turgon

    Yes maidens at the crossroads and the farmers. Right so the hugely prosperous Irish farming sector helped by this 25 minute time change will make up for the losses of trade etc. with the (hated) British and the Europeans.

    You use as justification for proposing this debate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

    When in a hole Dr. McCann.

  • David McCann

    Comment deleted by post author

    Also I said the DPRK (which I admit isn’t the best example) is what put the idea in my head as I remember the first time I heard about Dublin Mean Time was actually as an Ulster Farmers Union stall I went past at a conference two years ago.

  • Turgon

    No Dr. McCann you are the one with the bizarre pretty racist comments about Ireland being exceptional (remember that one) or the assorted articles appropriating the unionist population to “Irishness” or indeed the “Debate about Unity” you have recently foisted on us.

    You view everything through the narrow minded prism of a fundamentalist irish nationalist.

    Check my archives on slugger: I write about NI politics, UK politics, international stuff etc. Slurs (indeed lies) from you do not change the truth.

    But keep digging. When you reach Australia you will find it has a different time zone.

  • Paul Devlin

    David McCann is a doctor? Well done, sir! Nepalese time is a quarter hour ahead of India, just because it’s Nepal, not India. Life goes on as normal. Lay down your handbag, Turgon. You’ll have a stroke from all that anger

  • David McCann

    Cheers Turgon check my last few posts they are on Australian politics under the Rudd/Gillard years and the Canadian election. Which I follow everyday..

    But you keep playing the man, you do it so well.

  • Turgon

    Man playing?

    To quote you above: “just becauxse you view everything though the sectarian politics of NI doesn’t mean the rest of us do”

    As an addition: the above quote was from Dr. McCann further up the thread but he has removed it; removing the evidence.

    That was from you. Projection of one’s own failing onto others is common. I comment on many things other than NI politics without even the remotest reference to NI: any chance of you retracting your lie about me?

  • David McCann

    On that comment, you’re actually correct that was wrong of me to do and I want to apologise for it.

  • Turgon

    Well it is far from the first time you have made dishonest, scurrilous and untrue attacks on me and other people with whom you disagree: predominantly unionists; unsurprisingly.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Andy I think your point about trading time was the decisive factor for Ireland changing to GMT in 1916. I think this would still be the stance taken by governments and business (especially in Europe) on the debate and issue, but it may not be as big a factor as it once was as the world works 24 hours around the clock now to accommodate all markets !

  • David McCann

    Now, now Turgon, I haven’t personally attacked people on here and you know it. I rarely venture into the comments section as I look to just watch the debate unfold.

    But the rest I stand by, but those two lines were not fair on you and said in a moment of annoyance but still doesn’t justify it. I’ll always admit when I get it wrong and in that instance I did.

    On the rest of the post, there is nothing nationalistic about it. GB could exist quite well with two time zones, although Andy has given some good food for thought in this regard about some of the other issues surrounding it.

  • Turgon

    Outstanding Dr. McCann wants to make the RoI have an odd time system and we can now justify it with North Korea and Nepal: nothing wrong with Nepal but its population are mainly poor farmers. Then again in view of the somewhat DeValera like suggestion of Dr. McCann that might seem reasonable idea from his point of view.

    North Korea on the other hand…

  • Turgon

    ” I haven’t personally attacked people on here and you know it.”

    compare with:

    “not for the first time on this site you’ve twisted my words.”

    Both from you to me.

  • David McCann

    Note that the above quote from me is accurate and it was not removing evidence just following standard moderation procedures of the site

  • Reader

    I suppose the 25 minutes is because Dunsink observatory is 6’20” west of Greenwich, hence 25minutes 20seconds behind Greenwich on average. (There will be seasonal variation in the exact amount because of the earth’s tilt and our elliptical orbit round the sun, 15 minutes either way)
    However, there’s no reason every town and city in the Republic couldn’t have its own local and seasonal noon. I’m sure your Calendar App will cope with teleconference time offsets.
    Meanwhile, the UK continues to think about whether to move 1 hour forward to CET(Central European Time) by keeping Summer time in the Winter. Just to make things easier…

  • chrisjones2

    Memo Dont feed the Troll

  • Guys – take your squabble offline!

  • Colin Lamont

    It’s wonderful to see an apology on this site. To me that makes you a far bigger person than many contributors on here. Fair play sir.
    That being said, I agree with the thrust of Turgon’s case. I have a lot of time for you David as a commentator/blogger but to say this is now slightly tainted would be an understatement. This post is worthy of a spot on April Fools and no more, I’m still not sure if you’re joking or not.

  • Korhomme

    I wasn’t aware of Dublin Time. In Victorian times, visitors to the very west of Ireland were disgusted by the indolence of the farmers, who didn’t cut the hay until midday; the visitors hadn’t reckoned on the time difference, in those parts around an hour.

    Another difficulty is just how far north much of Ireland is compared to England, compounding the long days in summer and the long nights in winter; not something that the change to DMT would improve.

    But when you say “we” just what “we” do you mean? Those in the Republic, or those in the whole island? I can’t see the UK living so easily with two time zones, and two time zones in a smallish island…particularly when the change is north/south rather than east/west.

  • John Collins

    Well Portugal is not that much bigger than Ireland and is bounded by Spain, a much bigger country, and it is in a different time zone. I travel between Spain and Portugal occasionally and I never noticed the sky falling in.

  • John Collins

    David. Is it not wonderful that there no fundamentalist Loyalists. And they would never get elected to Parliament if they did exist. Hold on a minute

  • Catcher in the Rye

    This is pathetic from someone supposedly well educated.

    Turgon, every other contribution that you write these days includes petty jibes at people you disagree with. Why ?

  • John Collins

    I refer you to comment above on Spain and Portugal. There seems to no problem there.

  • chrisjones2

    not “SF alone-ism” just SF onanism

  • Gingray

    I don’t think GB would notice 🙂

    Have studies not shown it would be beneficial to farmers and school kids in Ireland and Scotland?

    Also what would we do if England and Wales move to Central European Time?

    Sad to see Turgon turning this into a sectarian fight when it’s something people in the UK are debating.

  • Turgon

    Moving to CET would involve moving the clocks forwards not backwards. Dr. McCann’s proposal for a “Dublin time” would move anywhere which used it further away from not towards CET.

    It is the exact opposite of what people in the UK are debating.

  • Gingray

    Turgon, sorry I think you are deliberately misrepresenting him here, and just being a big meanie.

    ‘or go to a time zone that is one hour behind GMT’

    David did not limit himself to one option.

    What’s your opinion – if England moves time zone should we follow them, a la China, as we are forever in their shadow?

  • Turgon

    You claimed it was something people in the UK are debating. Actually it is the exact converse of what people in the UK are debating.

    The studies suggesting possible benefit (correct or incorrect) are ones suggesting moving in the opposite direction to Dr. McCann’s proposal.

    As such you are, I am afraid, exactly incorrect.

    Dr. McCann’s proposal would change anyone who used it away from the UK and Portugal and further away from the rest of Europe. That is a simple statement of fact: it is not misrepresenting Dr. McCann.

    It would be an “ourselves alone” position making whoever used it out of synch with everyone else in the world (it would not even be half or a whole number of hours difference).

    You can criticise me suggesting that Dr. McCann was being a “little Irelander” by all means but you cannot claim accurately that the proposal is the same as the UK. If Dr. McCann had multiple proposals only one directly opposite to the one he proposed would make that proposal accord with what you are claiming about it.

  • Gingray

    Now I think you are just being playful. Or playfully difficult 🙂

    I posted a link about England moving to CET. Then said they are debating it in the UK.

    As in changing the time zone. You have deliberately misconstrued my comments, shame on you, you are better than this.

  • Turgon

    No Dr. McCann proposed moving the clocks in the RoI 25 minutes backwards. The debate in GB is about moving the clocks 1 hour forwards. That might have advantages in terms of traffic and in terms of business: might; might not. By either of the sets of proposed benefits Dr. McCann’s plan is the opposite of the suggestion in GB.

    Dr. McCann’s argument is essentially about using solar time: i.e. 12 noon is when the sun is at its highest. Unfortunately that varies depending on where in a country one is due to the rotation of the earth. As such he is arbitrarily choosing Dublin as the mean point. That makes no sense in a globalised word where we are all interconnected and the majority of time zones work on 1 hour increments.

    It is as I suggested a little Irelander piece of nonsense harking back to even before DeValera: it is all very maidens dancing at the crossroads.

  • Gingray

    You see what you want to see. Your desire to follow England come what may is unfortunate, we will just need to disagree on what’s best for Britain being what’s best for Fermanagh.

  • Turgon

    No I would rather we followed international convention and used 1 hour time zone blocks. Dr. McCann’s proposal would completely end that and make its users unique and unique in a confusing fashion. Its users would not be 6 hours ahead of the US east coast but 4 hours and 35 minutes. They would not be 1 hour behind CET but 1 hour and 25 minutes behind. It would be confusing for everyone.

    I would also rather we kept closer to neighbouring places as it makes many things easier. If there was a huge discrepancy between the clock time and real time a change might be appropriate but a change of 25 minutes is of minimal importance.

    The only other 1 hour time block option would be to put the RoI’s clocks back 1 whole hour but as well as taking it further away from GMT and CET it would also take it further away from solar time.

    The proposed advantages of moving GB forwards in exactly the opposite direction to Dr. McCann’s proposals are to have more light in the evenings. It is suggested this would reduce RTAs in the evening and that that would outweigh any increase in RTAs in the morning. It is also suggested that it would aid business with Europe (actually the UK did this during the war and for a couple of years in the 1970s). There may or may not be benefits but Dr. McCann’s proposals would go in exactly the opposite direction.

    One does not change the time zone for the sake of it: one does it for a reason. Some reasons have been proposed for changing the time zone forwards. There are no reasons proffered for changing it backwards apart from narrow chauvinistic nationalism: either that or some sort of hippyish wish to orientate the day around 12 noon which as Andy B has said above makes little sense in the context of western society. Hence, my maidens at the crossroads comments.

    The DPRK justified their decision by throwing off imperial Japanese rule etc. as Japan had imposed the time zone the DPRK was using. That is I am afraid the only reason to have Dr. McCann’s proposal. It is simplistic nationalistic nonsense.

    You seem to fail to understand that your initial justification: that of a potential change in GB; is the exact opposite to Dr. McCann’s proposals.

  • Gingray

    I understand perfectly big mon.

    You know full well that David suggested more than one option, but you ignore it.

    You not stupid, so the only reason I can think you would do it is your whole argument is pointless.

    Similarly I’ve asked you if England moves timezone to CET should we follow. Still waiting …

  • Korhomme

    Spain/Portugal are an east/west split; NI and RoI are (roughly) north/south. Apart from the PDRNK or whatever N Korea is called these days, who else has a north/split time difference? That is an entirely political decision, not anyway related to the “time” in the two parts of the peninsula.

  • David McCann

    Just want to say Turgon, that type of response to the proposal is exactly what I was looking for.

  • Korhomme

    I’m quite sure GB wouldn’t notice; and yes, farmers etc would generally welcome the change, though they would prefer not to have the summer time change.

    But if you are relying on the Fail as a source of information…you know actual facts.

    A minor point: Dublin is at the eastern edge of Ireland; the points west are still going to be disadvantaged. Why not a centre in Ireland, say Athlone, as the source of “time”?

  • Turgon

    No Dr. McCann proposed using the old Dublin mean time which may have worked before the railways but that was rather a long time ago. The world is somewhat more interconnected now.

    I think since almost every other country in the world uses 1 hour time blocks it might be sensible to use the same. Now the only conceivable change in Dr. McCann’s direction (which he did indeed mention) then would be 1 hour back making the RoI even more incompatible with both CET (and GMT) as well as even more out of synch with solar time.

    I personally am unconvinced that the UK should change to CET and as such your repeated question: the opposite of Dr. McCann’s which you were advocating, is for me irrelevant.

  • Turgon

    And the DPRK chose its option to throw off Japanese colonialism as you know full well. They did not choose it to benefit their trade, reduce RTAs or anything like that. They did it for petty chauvinistic reasons. As such your sudden conversion to a logical debate on the topic is unconvincing to say the least.

  • David McCann

    Okay Turgon, we will leave it there

  • Gingray

    Now your just being mean.

    Reread David’s blog and you will see he mentions one hour. You ignore this. Why?

    And you didn’t answer my question, you rephrased it to suit your agenda. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

  • AndyB

    Thanks David 🙂

    I did realise that I can’t add. Moving Ireland’s clocks back would create a better overlap with New York not a worse one due to moving from five hours difference to four. Oops…

  • Turgon

    I responded to Dr. McCann’s 25 minutes and 1 hour suggestions pointing out both were a bad idea. Do not tell lies: I have responded to the 1 hour suggestion several times above.

    I think that the 25 minutes is a bad idea because it makes the RoI unique. The 1 hour is a bad idea because it shifts it away from the UK, further away from CET and actually is less correct in solar terms than the current system.

    I am not being “mean.” You seem unable to understand what changing time zones means.

    I have answered the questions on Dr. McCann’s blog and I have told you I do not support the UK changing to use CET. As such whether I would agree with NI and the RoI going with CET if GB did is simply an irrelevance. I am not going to answer a question based on a conjecture which I think is neither a good idea nor particularly likely to happen. Just as I do not answer “Would you want to remain in the UK if it were taken over by another country / 12 foot tall blood drinking lizard aliens” or have you stopped beating your wife typed questions.

  • AndyB

    I did think about that, but stock and currency markets still seem to operate on a 9-5 basis, even though trading takes place at all times (how this works with companies who are only listed on one stock exchange is one of the many things I do not know, even though with my background I ought to!), and while some offices may be open from 7 you’re probably more likely to get people in the evening than in the morning due to the tendency to centre waking days around mid-afternoon rather than the meridian.

    Still, global 24 hour markets would make a clock change more irrelevant 😉

    The whole subject is one of those things that is just fun to discuss and consider, perhaps because the status quo is so highly unlikely to change.

  • David McCann

    Cheers Andy.

    You’re a wealth of knowledge on the topic. Tell me, would the implications of being further from CET be a major factor for us? Or would it be manageable?

  • AndyB

    You can imagine it. “Oh, we’re in Athlone. Right, everyone, put your watches back 7 minutes and 5 seconds.”

    I know, very facetious. I think that time zones are best banded in whole hours – even though I know some zones are in half hour offsets and I think at least one is a quarter hour offset – simply because it’s easier for humans to keep track without an increasingly complicated world clock app.

  • AndyB

    I think the answer is yes, it’s manageable, in the same way as the British Isles and Portugal already cope just fine with being an hour out (see also T.E.Lawrence’s comment below), but I’m less than convinced that there would be many advantages, let alone enough to overcome the inconvenience.

  • Sprite

    As the smart money is on eurozone countries having to relinquish national sovereignty and join a German dominated superstate, its more likely that Ireland will end up on CET before the UK does.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    An innocent enough thread, derailed.
    This is why we can’t have nice things….

  • William Carr

    Hello sluggerites,
    I didn’t think my first post here would be on timezones, but it would appear that we do have two (at least ) timezones on slugger.
    One is in 2015 and another is firmly lodged in the 1930’s keeping a eye on your man DeValera .
    Does anybody remember the old joke where the pilot announces : we are now approaching Northern Ireland please put your watches back 50 years!

  • WindsorRocker

    David, you say our FDI rates are from the USA. Agreed. One of the advantages of GMT and CET is that people in the US can overlap with us but crucially we can just overlap with the Far East which the Americans cannot do so Europeans end up doing it for them. Move time west and you lose that global lynchpin advantage.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Only 50?

  • David McCann

    This might interest those of you actually wanting to debate the topc

  • John Collins

    It is also north/south as despite what you say there is also a north/south border between Spain and Portugal as Northern Portugal also borders Spain

  • Kevin Cannon

    We don’t change time zones, just working hours. People who work primarily with the US often work later, people who work with India, earlier.

    People put too much emphasis on time zones.

  • Kevin Cannon

    China only has one timezone.

  • paulgraham7567

    Another example of unwillingness to even discuss an issue as passive as a timezone.

    Given that GB has looked at this issue recently, and it is currently a news topic globally, I doubt the author is secretly trying to unite ireland, 1 hour at a time.

    From the language and context of the article, it comes across as a lighthearted look at our history. Over the course of the last 150 years there have been several changes to the timezones on this island. 1916 saw us standardised with GB, 1968 saw the ROI experiment with matching CET, 1971 saw that experiment abolished.

    A valid conversation, given the current N. Korean decision. But to see it as a secret ploy to remove our Britishness, is the exact pettiness you accuse others of.

    Perhaps you should get out a little more often, meet some new people from different backgrounds to yourself? Perhaps then you would realise that everyone who doesn’t share your Far Right opinions isnt secretly out to get you.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, once the attempt to see this as a fiendish Irish Nationalist plot is filleted out, the discussion between David and AndyB and those other comments by Korhomme and others make for an interesting discussion.

    And the sun actually does rise at a very different (“solar”) time here to when it rises in Greenwich, giving us 24 minutes more of twilight, so it should have been a debate between local human experience and international convenience, something that does not automatically fall into “the Union vs United Ireland” discussions. I’m glad to see that some commentators approached it in the spirit of this reality.

  • barnshee

    In suspect its a UU degree -enough said