Friday 30 September 2016

Savour the sunshine while it lasts

Ann Fitzgerald

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

Lahinch, Co. Clare
Lahinch, Co. Clare

I can be as gloomy as the next person about global warming. But sometimes you just have to look on the sunny side (sorry!).

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If world temperatures keep going the way they are, I forecast that tourists will be flocking to Ireland. Because every other civilised place is going to be so hot that they will be looking for some green temperate land for a bit of respite.

Figures released last week by NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, show the world is set to hit another high temperature benchmark in 2016, for the third year in a row.

The underlying premise of tourism is that you go somewhere different to where you normally live. So the Dutch climb mountains, we head to the Med for a good old frying and the Chinese go anywhere that isn't China.

I expect what's put me in a light-hearted mood - or sent me tipping further over the edge of normality - was the occurrence in Ireland last week of the hottest day in a decade.

I firmly believe, as a country and a people, we need at least one day's blazing sunshine a year.

Partly to be able to show visitors that Ireland is not just a place where the most essential piece of clothing is a rain jacket.

But more so to be able to feel a blast of sunshine on our backs. And to feel it on our own soil. It's all very well elsewhere but far more special when you can comfortably walk in bare feet on your own grass.

Actually, I'm thinking of starting a petition for a national holiday. Obviously called Sunshine Day, it would be a decadent occasion but a lot cheaper than Christmas because, as an obviously moveable date, it would be short notice and there wouldn't be time to put up decorations and send cards.

I acknowledge there are two problems with such a plan: 1) that we would actually have to have one of these days every year and 2) that someone would actually have to call it.

So, first, there would have to be a lobby of the weather gods. Then there is the question of who would declare it.

There are lots of so-called weather experts but it would indubitably fall to Met Eireann, our often-slagged but impossible-to-overlook, national meteorological service.

I know this would put a little bit of pressure on the Evelyn et al but, think about it; if they call it right, everyone is happy and, if they call it wrong and it is not an absolute scorcher, most people are going to be happy anyway as they get a day off work.

Of course, we would only want one or, at most, no more than a few blazing days a year. Or else it would lose its kudos.

When you can only go to the beach on one day on the year, everyone makes an effort to go that day. But when you can go any day, there is a fair chance that you will not go any day and, even if you do, there is less sense of occasion.

Last Tuesday, I happened to find myself on the Co Clare beach of Lahinch. All life was laid bare in its delicious intricacy and colour; the rain-hail-or-shine swimmers, squabbling children and happy ones, frazzled mothers and burden-bearing fathers, lissom teenage girls and football-kicking boys, a tanned elderly couple strolling through the breaking surf hand in hand.

A spray-painted sign on the promenade wall said it all: "Don't count the days, make the days count".

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