Wednesday 26 October 2016

Damp, miserable and freezing cold - the Irish summer is part of what we are

Rain in summer - a seasonal hazard in Ireland
Rain in summer - a seasonal hazard in Ireland

I blame the Kardashians, Breaking Bad, Jersey Shore and all those other sunny American television shows that are competing with Ear To The Ground and Nationwide.

Why else would a generation growing up in Ireland expecting sunny weather during the summer?

The weather or, more precisely, Irish weather has been dominating public debate this past few weeks.

It's cold. It's cloudy. It's raining. Of course it is. It's a traditional Irish summer. Get used to it or clear off. It's why we have bogs and not deserts.

Psychologists and people from Met Eireann are being wheeled out on radio to enable deluded listeners to unburden themselves of their weather angst.

We've had the worst summer in the history of the world, they whine. Maybe not. But, admittedly, July - a bit like the Senior Football Championship - was s***e.


As we all know, both miserable weather and pulling and dragging on the football pitch is part of what we are. How soon we forget.

Give them a smartphone or tablet with access to images of bikini beach dramas, celebrities on their holidays (like Rosanna Davison - inset), or tanned chefs scooting about Tuscany in open-topped motors searching for the world's most exciting tomato, and all memories of that horrendous week in a caravan in Ballybunion, Salthill or Tramore are totally erased.

But tell me this. Have you ever met someone who travelled the Ring of Kerry when it wasn't obscured by grey low-ceiling clouds and sheets of rain?

We're all climate aspirational now. Yet, what if those craving sunstroke and prickly heat actually got their wishes? Think of the traditional delights we'd be sacrificing.

The Rose of Tralee dome being nearly lifted into the Atlantic by storm-force gales and the pelting rain on the canvas top all but drowning out the Garda Band. Stamping around knee-deep in muck while embracing casual hypothermia at rock festivals.

Rivulets of warm rain running down your neck at sports events. Making a hames of putting up a tent to save your annual BBQ.

If it wasn't for our dismal summers we probably wouldn't have the glut of poets and novelists we do.

Imagine if Frank McCourt hadn't been able to bang on about how "great sheets of rain gathered to drift slowly up the Shannon River and settle forever in Limerick."

Didn't Liam Clancy regularly kick out the jams on stage in spectacular fashion with someone's reworking of Raftery's Praise of Mary Hynes. "On my oath, the rain was a heavy overcoat on a poor poet; and when the rain began in fleeces of water to buck-leap like a goat, I was only a walking penance ..."

A walking penance. That's our lot, I'm afraid. That's as good as it gets.

So, just because you spent a few months on Bondi Beach or schlepping around the Aegaen squiffy on cheap ouzo and Factor 50, don't expect the traditional Irish summer to change just for you.

Around these parts, Factor 50 usually refers to a series of tractor.

Mind you, there is a silver lining.

As the Wild Atlantic Way lives up to the promise of its advertising slogan, surely it won't be long until some think tank devises an annual National Soft Day Festival.

Besides, those who claim the weather would drive you to drink actually appear to be doing something about it. Employment in the Irish beer industry is going up - a trend no doubt driven by hordes of bewildered tourists anxious to anaesthetise themselves against the "temperate" and "moderate" conditions.

Craft brewers have doubled their output in the last few years, which is great news for the Government, which rake in €425m annually in tax on beer sales.

Maybe it's all the Government's fault. Maybe it's a conspiracy.

You wouldn't put it past Phil Hogan to arrange for cloud seeding in order to make us pay for water.

Would you?

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