RTE star's bright outlook attracts a flurry of fans
'The colder it is, the hotter she gets'
SHE'S the weather-watcher who always has her finger on the fashion pulse.
And now her daring wardrobe choices have bagged meteorologist Jean Byrne legions of followers.
The RTE weather presenter has raised some eyebrows -- and set the male population's temperature soaring -- with futuristic leather dresses and other avant-garde creations.
And while some might cruelly refer to her "tinfoil" silver dress worn during a Christmas Day weather bulletin, her fans have proclaimed her as a "fashion ambassador for Ireland".
Now two Facebook groups have been set up to celebrate her unique style. The Jean Byrne Appreciation Society on Facebook already has over 240 members and they proudly proclaim her as "the coolest meteorologist in history".
"The colder it is, the hotter she gets," posted one fan, Barry O'Keeffe.
Referring to the famous silver dress, which is by Irish designer Joanne Hynes, Jean modestly insisted she didn't know what all the fuss was about.
"It was Christmas Day so I thought: 'I'm not going to bring out the old boring red jacket that's been gathering dust for the past 20 years -- just because it's red.' I thought people wouldn't particularly notice," she told the Irish Independent.
And while she is delighted by the response from her Facebook fans, she now has the pressure of everyone watching her next fashion step.
"It's very flattering and I'm really grateful . . . It's probably a bit hard to live up to. You can't do that all the time," she joked.
Jean says she sees clothes as "a work of art". Like other on-air figures at RTE, she receives a clothing allowance, but she often delves into her own wardrobe for items.
"I'd say my style is fairly unique. It's basically very simple, I love beautiful fabrics, I like things well-cut and nice embellishments like crystals or feathers.
"I'd rather spend a lot on one item I love. I'm not a follower of trends or a slave to fashion . . . I think it's only in recent years that I settled into what I really like and feel more comfortable with what I wear," she said.
Born in Tarbert, Co Kerry, Jean initially decided to study medicine on leaving school, but then made up her mind it wasn't for her and applied for a job at Met Eireann.
Employed first as a meteorological officer, she went for further training at the aviation office in Shannon Airport, which delivers meteorological services to pilots and airlines.
Afterwards, she moved to the research division in Dublin, where she worked on numerical weather prediction models.
From there, Jean moved to her present position in the general forecasting division and since 1996 has regularly presented weather on RTE.