Friday 26 May 2017

Storm front? Weather forecaster Evelyn Cusack denies taking a swipe at Jean Byrne

Evelyn Cusack
Evelyn Cusack

Sharon McGowan

Weather forecaster Evelyn Cusack has denied taking a swipe at her colleague Jean Byrne after criticising female presenters for dressing "frivolously" on air.

The broadcaster came under fire recently for slating women making fashion statements while presenting the weather, saying: "It's hard to take a woman seriously when you're hearing her leather skirt squeaking and her earrings dangling."

Given Jean's penchant for avant-garde garments, many wondered if Evelyn's comment wasn't a not-so-subtle dig.

However, Evelyn insists she wasn't referring to Jean's eccentric fashion sense when she made the remarks last month and said a "big hullabaloo" had been made out of the situation.

Feted: Weather girl Jean Byrne in figure hugging dress
Feted: Weather girl Jean Byrne in figure hugging dress

"I never meant anything like that by the comment," she said. "That quote wasn't meant to be specific about anyone in the weather."

The meteorologist said she was referring to her own sense of style and the effort she makes to avoid being noticed on screen.

Jean Byrne
Jean Byrne

"The thing is that when I joined the RTE weather service in 1988, there was a dress code and that dress code, which is still my ethos, is that I was not to stand out while I was reading the weather. I was not getting at anyone," Evelyn said.

The Laois woman has been presenting the weather on the national broadcaster for close to 30 years.

Jean Byrne
Jean Byrne

However, it seems forecasting wasn't always her passion.

"When I joined Met Eireann I didn't even know what a cloud was," she said.

Evelyn Cusack
Evelyn Cusack

"I remember when we got our first TV, my mother said of the weather forecasters, 'You know those gentlemen are very qualified.' And my father loved watching the weather."

While she's carved out a successful career forecasting the weather, Evelyn said being a weather woman is far from her dream job - it was something she decided against pursuing because she believed it wasn't a suitable role for a woman.

"You know, if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I wouldn't be a singer or a dancer or a meteorologist, I'd be a geologist," she said.

"I felt it was a man's job or at least all the geology jobs were on oil rigs or in mining."

Speaking to the RTE Guide, the Dun Laoghaire-based presenter also said she gave up on religion when she was a teenager.

"Religion is a way of looking and explaining life and most of them were devised 2,000 or so years ago, pre-scientific ways of understanding the world," Evelyn explained.

"Of course, people say that science can't explain everything, but it's an ongoing process."


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