It’s fair to say that Ireland has a dysfunctional relationship with summer. It’s a bit like when you go to the annual Christmas party at your relatives and hope that this year, great uncle Joe won’t slap you on the back and tell you very questionable jokes. Every year you hope, and every year you wind up feeling like a sap for hoping. Every year we hope that summer will come to us here in Ireland. We get a few nice days, and the whole island goes a bit mad, and then the rain returns.
Strolling through shops in Ireland in April and May, you’d be forgiven for thinking we expect amazing, sunny weather. Everywhere you look, it’s swimsuits, gauzy flowing dresses, big hats, and SPF 50 sunblock. But look again. The shops are also suddenly full of travel-size toiletries and luggage. No one is going to wear any of those things on this island. But we will all lie to ourselves when we buy them, pretending that we will.
Signs of Summer in Ireland
We do have a summer in Ireland, at least we have a few months when it is more comfortable with the heating off than on. It is not always obvious when it is actually summer in Ireland. Here are few signs to look for to confirm it.
- People switch from complaining about the cold to complaining about the heat. We hate the cold, but we’re used to it. What strikes most of the world as a mild day feels to locals like an inferno.
- Everyone under 40 needs a small tent and a pair of rubber boots. No, they are not going camping and fishing. It is music festival season. Our historic love of a sing-along has morphed into a deep passion for outdoor music festivals, weather is damned. We will brave driving rain and howling winds to dance in the mud in our boots.
- Adults go to summer schools. The island of saints and scholars values life-long learning, and adults often take short courses over the summer. These summer schools have a particular focus such as literature, creative writing, music, Irish language, politics, or public policy.
- Students curse their fate. The leaving certificate exams are a week of tests for those completing secondary school. The stakes are high, as their scores determine which colleges and programs will accept them. Almost invariably, Ireland sees a week of fantastic weather during the exams. So while the students are inside sweating over their exams, the rest of the island is outside losing our collective mind.
- When that fabulous weather strikes, everyone wants their backyard to be fully equipped as if we would be spending months, not mere days, basking in the sun there. We can’t buy enough barbecues and patio furniture.
It’s no wonder really that the whole island gets so excited when we do get a bit of good weather. Whether it is a quiet country lane or a path through Dublin’s Phoenix Park, when the sun finally hits Ireland, the beauty will go right to your head.
Slán go fóill