The sun seems to have run away from Ireland yet again this summer, a gloomy RACHAEL SHEARER reports.If there’s one thing that Ireland is famous for, besides the rain, it’s talking about the rain.
Stuck for something to say to a random passer-by, shopkeeper, taxi driver? Comment on the weather. It doesn’t have to be positive, negative or in any way specific.
You can quite literally say “Some day, isn’t it?” while looking wistfully upwards and allow the other converser to take from that whatever they will. Because yes, it is in fact some day, at some point in time, somewhere. Whether there are clouds or not is irrelevant.
Just commenting on the sheer existence of the day and the presumed state of the weather inside that day is enough. You’re part of the club. You’re one of the cool kids now. Irish people are addicted to the weather, and if you want to blend in, you have to succumb to the peer pressure and start getting hooked.
Living in New York, I was subjected to 14 months of extremity unlike anything I had ever experienced. I’m not sure if 2014 was just particularly aggressive with the polar vortex and whatnot, but I was bowled over by the aggressive sky pummeling the puny humans below with its hideous mood.
I arrived on October 6, had about three weeks of pleasant semi-overcast weather, and by the time November rolled in I was plunged head-first into a six month long blizzard tundra horror-show.
Crisp evenings and bright blue mornings were – admittedly – incredibly beautiful. Central Park twinkling under a layer of soft white snow and the lights of Broadway bouncing along sheets of ice was pure magic.
Christmas was exceptional. I regularly stopped in the street, playing a highly cringe-worthy soundtrack in my head while looking around at the bustling crowds with their Macy’s bags and the sound of carolers and yellow cabs – all the necessary ingredients for your own private Miracle on 34th. It was cold as heck, but I could get behind it as Christmas in Ireland is rarely white, and is more often a dull, deeply depressing shade of grey.
However, when we got to MARCH it was still snowing. And then got to APRIL and it was STILL snowing. I had had enough.
We were all there. I won’t bang on about it more than is absolutely necessary – but, the most shocking thing to me is when I took a quick visit back to Ireland in April to attend a wedding, it was warmer in Ireland than it was in New York. I was getting texts from friends saying they wished they were also in Ireland for the weather! This has never happened in the history of all of my life.
However, guess who was complaining more? You’ll never beat the Irish.
Summer in New York City was an onslaught of heat and sweat, a welcome break from the frostbite and hypothermia, but a shock to the system all the same. I bought my first air-conditioner and all respectable clothing was forsaken at the risk of sunburn and life-threatening skin damage. Meanwhile, at home, they were having a glorious summer too! I received regular photos from the aul pair (Mom and Dad) having cheeky BBQ’s in the back garden and weekend trips to the beach. People were getting tanned without having to take so much as one crappy Ryanair flight. Ireland was giving the people very little reason to complain.
The sunshine makes us so much happier. It’s a wonder the entire population hasn’t emigrated.
So I returned to Ireland and endured the usual greyness of winter, the withering greyness of spring with occasional patches of fresh, dewy sunshine, and eagerly anticipated another of these delightful summers I had heard so much of while I was literally and figuratively melting in New York. June gave us two fantastic weeks (which everyone is still talking about, and will probably talk about for the next decade) and since then it has been… cold. It has been very, very cold.
Sandals have stayed inside their shoe-boxes. Suncream has begun to rot in the bottom of drawers. Sunglasses are used merely as hairbands, and hats are purely decorative.
Wind, rain, and actual winter-like cold. The sun has packed it in. We have been abandoned, and mercy me, are we complaining!
My best friend was just traveling South America for four months and returned a rather intense shade of mahogany. Her brown hair had been bleached white blonde by the sun, as had her eyelashes and eyebrows.
I genuinely got a fright when I saw her. She truly glowed with health, enthusiasm and an overall state of relaxation that could be seen in her very gait, in the way she walked calmly from place to place, in her soothed stature as she sat for coffee. The sun was inside her very bones and shone out through her enviably tanned skin.
Four weeks on, the tan is beginning (barely) to fade, and she is panic stricken. More than that, she is depressed. The bad weather is climbing into her soul and sucking away her happiness.
Initially, I told her to shut up and stop being such a whiny baby after her four months of glory, but now I can even see it in myself. My one summer of consistent sun last year had me spoiled.
The joy of waking up and strolling outside without a coat on is not one to be overlooked. The freedom to eat your lunch outdoors during work. The long, warm evenings spent in a park or on a beach. The hot sweet nights dancing outdoors and deciding to walk home because it’s so beautifully balmy.
These are the simple luxuries offered by the simple presence of simple sunshine. When deprived, I am suddenly, simply sad.
So while 99 percent of the time, the Irish small-talk discussions of the weather are mere time-fillers or polite conversation, this summer it seems to have taken a turn. The general mood of the population seems to have taken a hit. People actually don’t want to bring it up because it’s just too depressing.
I’m even struggling to wrangle a dark-humored joke out of it all. People have even resorted to starting rumors about a “heat wave” that’s due in late August! This same alleged heat wave was also due in mid-July, then late-July, then early-August.
I think we’ll be pushing this rumor back and back until we get into “Indian Summer” territory, and before we know it we’ll be back in the grey.
Next year I won’t be making the same mistake of relying on any kind of an Irish summer. I won’t let it steal my sunshine again.