I love everything about summer. The first Teddy’s ice cream, the first ice-cold dip in the sea as the sun shines, the way everyone reassures each other proudly that there’s nowhere better to be than Ireland when the sun is shining. I love driving the Sky Road in the sunshine, the long, long Kerry evenings and heady scents of the grass being mown in gardens everywhere. And the wonder of living on an island that’s small enough to have a beach within reasonable reach of pretty much everyone. Picnics!
Those three days (average) of sunshine are great, no doubt. But I reckon that the best part is the rest of it. Rainstorms rolling in over the Burren and spectacular rainbows to follow. Cheeky pints, because you might as well seeing as how it’s going to stay moody-looking all day. Finding a shelter in the dunes and making a wind-proof camp to eat your sandy sandwiches.
We think we’d love a non-stop ‘proper’ summer, but in truth we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. 1976 is still spoken of in awestruck terms, equal parts horror (oh, the heat!) and misty-eyed fondness (oh the heat!). We haven’t the complexion for it, unless you’ve the fortune to have missed out on the freckle-freckle-burn gene most of us have. We droop in the noonday sun and need our dinner at 6 sharp, not after the sun has gone down like the sun-savvy Mediterraneans. Plus, there’s the guilt of feeling sorry for the poor farmers, cap-wringing on the news and predicting that every crop and head of cattle will be lost if the heavens don’t open daily from June to September.
Long before anyone ever conceived of the Red Room, we Irish were fully conversant with Fifty Shades of Grey. Grey skies, that is. We can tell a ‘sun shower’ from ‘light to moderate rain’ and we like to spend a good part of the day in conversation about the prospect of it brightening up. Clear skies make us feel a little uncomfortable, just like American-style even white teeth do.
This year will be no different. It will blaze with sunshine for the period of the Junior and Leaving Cert. We’ll go mad in Woodies for the gas-powered barbeque and have 50 people over for a big ‘cook out’. From European beaches, we’ll check the temperature at home and comment approvingly on the level of precipitation (great altogether for farmers). And when we get home, we’ll get the winter clothes out in August, keep the central heating on and enjoy our 99s in between the sun showers. Glorious.
Jenny Coyle finds tropical climes unnerving @missmitford