Ireland in the sun brings a brighter outlook on life

Today has finally heralded the inevitable conclusion of the almost three weeks of uninterrupted sunny weather for Ireland as more familiar overcast skies swarm in from the Atlantic.

And while the heatwave conditions may not have had arrived without bringing along some problems of their own, the conditions brought a distinctive feeling of tropical enjoyment to a country so long mired in financial difficulties and negativity.

The good mood was particularly palpable in Cork last week as New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen performed to a sell-out crowd of over 40,000 at the city's biggest capacity stadium, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, on a sultry summer's night that would easily have rivalled conditions in the Mediterranean or other climes far sunnier than here.

The heatwave also brought along a spike in people holidaying at home according to tourism chiefs, while those who had opted for foreign shores over staycations must have been left considering whether they had been particularly unfortunate victims of Murphy's Law.

In a country where the ever-variable weather is often the dominant means of breaking the ice, news of the good weather, the latest forecast, or doomful speculation of when it would eventually end, quickly rose to the status of a national discourse.

Usually office-bound meteorological analysts were suddenly thrust blinking into the public limelight, with one prominent presenter being given a lengthy thirty minute segment on national radio to discuss why things had taken such a sudden turn for the better.

Musings and observations about the good conditions filled endless newspaper column inches and the usually penultimate weather segment was effectively transposed to the front of newspaper agendas, with the latest temperatures, news of road meltings, and pictures of people at the seaside happily relegating the season's political fanfare to second place.

Barbeques, as one columnist noted, seemed to have effectively replaced ovens and stove-tops as the preferred method of cooking, while those who couldn't make it to a beach flocked to boardwalk style watering holes to imbibe sun-kissed pints of cider.

The sense of a much-needed break from business as usual was only heightened by the feeling of national drama that accompanies more than a week of consecutively sunny days in Ireland.

Roads literally began to melt, an official national 'drought' was declared, and frantic public safety campaigns were communicated urging people to take care in the sun and to conserve water lest resrvoirs run dry.

There was even bated expectation, at one point, that the longstanding ambient temperature record of 94 degrees, in place since the 19th century, could be broken.

The biggest change, however, was unmistakably one of national mood.

After the unthrilling revelation that the country had, officially, sinked backed into recession and the fighting of a protracteed and acrimonious battle between religious voters and progressives over abortion legislation, everybody had need for a bit of light-entertainment.

The sense of national pride that the heatwave prompted provided just that.