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Eamon Keane: Newsflash: It snows in winter... it's time to end our weather obsession

Storm Rachael. The Big Freeze. A Polar Vortex.

Let’s get real. Reading the papers and hearing neighbours and friends talk and I have to ask myself am I living in the Arctic?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve were planning to trek to the North Pole – when all we’re actually doing is heading to the shops for milk.

It’s happened again – the annual weather event that takes place in the nation’s sitting rooms and at our water coolers.

Our neurotic obsession with ‘The Weather’ has once again taken over.

You see it snowed in the Midlands and the a bit of the West. And the wind blew. And it rained a bit more than it usually does.

But enough already – it’s as if every other aspect of life stopped once that cold snap hit.

Are you surprised? Probably not, we Irish take a kind of weird glee in our misery about the weather.

I can remember my grandmother being obsessed with it, particularly rain. ‘Tis an awful day, that cursed rain‘ was the refrain.

No one ever considered the fact that rain is part of our climate and expecting it to not be there is like expecting a politician not to break a promise.

Maybe the weather has helped us forget about other problems. Or maybe, as some psychologist may some day discover, we transfer all our worries onto the weather.

Listening to it again in recent days reminded me of the type of misery we read about in Peig as schoolkids. The more wild and windswept the weather and God forsaken life was, the better.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh but you have to admit we take a certain  joy in our misery, don’t we?

Myles na Gopaleen played this out perfectly in An Beal Bocht. It’s translated title ‘The Poor Mouth’ is a very apt description for us and our wailing over the weather.

The fact is that we actually have a very moderate climate here. A pilot friend of mine explained this to me one day when I was whingeing about our summers and winters.

Our overall levels of rainfall and snow are tiny compared to other parts of Europe. And our summers our moderate, without the extremes of temperature other parts get.

But we ignore this and instead the let the weather control us.

Once a bit of sun hits we turn into a nation on Prozac, drugged into goodness with the rays behind us. We smile more. We eat tons of crisps and drink litres of cider.

We show off our flesh regardless of tonnage or paleness. People can be heard singing in their gardens.

Children emerge from their laptop bunkers, eyes squinting as they discover ‘the outside‘ for the first time in years.

I guess I should be fair. We were once an agrarian people. Our survival depended on crops and the weather played a big part in that. Farmers really do depend on it and so did our ancestors. Maybe that’s what’s in our psyche when we obsess about the weather – the fear that if it’s bad we won’t survive.

That said many farmers have a stoic acceptance about the weather. You can’t change it can you? However that doesn’t stop most of us complaining.

Finally, confession time. As I write this I’m not actually in Ireland. I flew out this week to Lanzarote, where it’s a mere 21 degrees.

And what did I and my friends do the minute we landed here? Yes of course we complained about the weather. Irish people are the only ones who can do this whether we’re on the North Pole or the Equator.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m trying to catch the waitress’s eye for a Pina Colada. 

I wish she’d hurry up, I’m bloody freezing here after my swim.


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