Category: Archive

Dublin Report The weather has Irish tongues wagging

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Kelly

Autumn will hold no surprises for the Irish. We have already endured it this summer. As a result, the Seasonal Adjustment Disorder syndrome is as widespread as the gloom. There are people who would not normally fall into the most godawful fit of depression until October or November who are already consulting the remaining psychiatrists who have not departed for sun and surf. How will they get through the coming months, culminating with the massive shock of the Christmas festivities.

Saddest of all the SAD in Ireland are many hoteliers and guesthouse owners. Saddest of those are in the northwest, especially Donegal, which depends so much on the weekend impulse of our sundered Six County brethren, triggered by the lure of a sunny weekend on golden strands.

At least Kerry has something to look forward to, perhaps even an All-Ireland final in September. Then, there is the visit of a certain successful president who will suffer an ignominious defeat in Ballybunion. That’ll teach him to put his hands around golf clubs.

Sad too are the political whiz kids who suggested that visitors to Ireland should be taxed. They have been greeted with derision and large derogatory headlines in London’s Irish Post.

It would all be hilarious if it wasn’t so SAD.

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The first sentence Romanian tourists who generally arrive in container packages, and will never, ever pay a _3 tax, will learn in Ireland is “Jaas, isn’t it terrible weather?”

Gradually, if not immediately deported, as the result of being captured while selling copies of the Big Issue, the magazine designed to help the unemployed, our long-term tourist friends from the former Soviet bloc will be assimilated into Irish life just as the Vikings, the Normans and, even, God between us and all harm, the English have been.

Soon they will be so familiar as to greet tourists, as scarce Native Americans in Manhattan, with the fervently felt Irish greeting, “Jaas, isn’t it a terrible day? Weren’t yeh mad to come here for the holliers at all, at all?”

Irish conversation, famed the world over for its intrinsic whimsical wit, would be nothing without the weather. In fact, the Irish people might not even bother speaking to each other at all.

There are people in Ireland who have indulged in the odd “cupla focail” with absolute strangers who have since become lifelong friends and kindred spirits. They have done so because they have agreed that the weather is terrible, that the GAA is absolutely fantastic, that Madonna is really a good singer, that the North will never be sorted out, and that, yes, we are due a good summer, possibly before the millennium after next.

Walk into any Irish bar in Ireland and you will meet the guy in the corner facing the door. His mouth will be turned glumly downward and before you even take a sip of your pint, he will tut-tut, rolling his eyes toward the nicotine-encrusted ceiling to grate, “Jaas, did yeh ever see such a day as that? Cat, that’s what it is! Absolute rubbish!”

If you nod incomprehensibly, you are clearly a tourist who should pay _3 a day for the privilege of visiting this green and misty isle. Not that he will mention that, oh no. The Irish are nothing if not polite. You can be sure that he’s thinking it though.

Instead, because you are a tourist, you will be bombarded with the following questions in rapid rotation.

What part of America/Canada are you from? Have you ever been here before? Why, in the name of God, did you come back? Where are yeh staying? Where do you want to go?

Half a pint later, you will be told where you should really visit while you are in Ireland. If there are six people in the bar, you will get six different opinions. But you will also be warned, no matter where you intend going, “Of course now, the weather! If you don’t have the weather, it’ll be bloody awful!”

Can you imagine trying that on in New York? Can you imagine sauntering into a Sixth Avenue bar while, all around, the natives drop like flies from excess humidity and massive dehydration, only to be greeted with the inimitable salutation, “Jaas, isn’t it glorious weather?”

A guy who delivers a line like that could end up in Sing Sing — forever.

The point I strive to make as I stare out an office window at a scowling mass of threatening cumuli lying in serried ranks like snipers, no more than five feet from the sodden ground, is that Ireland could not be Ireland without its weather.

And the Irish people would have practically nothing to talk about without it. They might even end up like the Italians or the Spanish, tanned as weathered leather, casting soulful eyes at topless senoritas from wet, bedraggled Atlantic islands, God save the mark.

What would they talk about? Mortgages, their newest car, their mistresses, the huge crop of oranges, the next World Cup, the heat waves that had decimated three quarters of their population in just one sweltering week? Nothing interesting,.

The only slightly familiar comment they might make, as they sip their wine, bringing them back to their pallid origins is, “Jaas, isn’t it really killing weather?”

The point is, you cannot discuss the weather with any real sense of purpose, with any rational philosophical basis, if it is merely going to be the same the day after the day after tomorrow. There’s nothing new about sunshine in Florida.

And who really wants to talk about forest fires?

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