Swimmers at the Forty Foot at Sandycove, Dublin (Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland)
|Swimmers at the Forty Foot at Sandycove, Dublin (Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland)|
I have just spent ten blessed days in Ireland, with not a drop of rain in sight and the summer of deluge just a distant memory.
Is there a country anywhere that is so different when it is in sunshine or in shadow?
When it comes to Ireland I’m more convinced than ever that it is the weather, stupid.
All summer while in New York I had heard of the awful conditions, the pitiless rain and the storm clouds every day.
I heard tales of midsummer fires lit in the grate, overcoats worn on trips to the stores and flooding and dismay everywhere.
I was apprehensive -- and then I went back for the best two weeks of the year.
Dublin for theNotre Dame game felt like Florida in March, just right. The American fans thrived in the sunshine. Grafton Street and Temple Bar were awash in a blaze of color, pageantry and parades.
The game itself was under clear blue skies, and I’m sure the folks back home thought this was some kind of summer wonderland place.
My next stop was West Kerry where my father hails from, which encompasses Dingle and its heartland. When the sun shines the towering mountains, pristine beaches and picture perfect villages and towns put Tuscany in the shade.
When it rains the same scene is transformed to one of grey monotonous gloom with the mountains looming like dark shrouds over the landscape.
While in Kerry I spent a day at the postage-stamp size Killarney racetrack, with the Magillicuddy Reeks, the largest mountain range in Ireland, in the background. The sun was shining down, a band was playing and we sat in an outdoor bar full of patrons cheering on their selections.
Some stray Americans from the Notre Dame game in Dublinwalked around, utterly blown away by the beauty of the day and the surroundings. Again, the good weather made all the difference.
We ate dinner outside at the top-class Hotel Europe with the Lakes of Killarney directly in our vision on the kind of evening and dramatic light that film directors would kill for.
Little wonder that from Queen Victoria on down, visitors have marveled at the place.
The drive back from Kerry to Dublin was on an unforgettably warm day, and the Irish landscape never looked better. From mountainy Kerry to the flatlands of Laois and Kildare and on into Dublin, it seemed like the late summer bloom has spread a perfect sheen of light and glorious color across the land.
Later I drove on to Donegal to accept the Tip O'Neill Donegal Diaspora award.
It is many years since I had been there, but the beauty of the Buncrana/Derry region blew me away.
Again, I was seeing it at its best. Lough Swilly in the morning light, visiting the castle where Wolfe
Tone was kept after his capture, driving around the isolated but utterly beautifulInishowen peninsula was good for the Irish soul.
So there you have it, an antidote to the all the bad weather stories you heard about Ireland this past summer season.
“Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines” Shakespeare once wrote in a sonnet. I don’t think that can ever be true in Ireland, where the sun makes the summer.