Is Irish weather really as weird as people say it is? Possibly. But is Irish weather made even weirder by the level to which Irish people are fascinated by it? Most definitely. If you’re not convinced, just go on Twitter next time there is any kind of weather warning in place in Ireland and you will see for yourself.
The emergence of social media has been a bit of a double-edged sword for modern society. It has both helped and harmed the level of public discourse in different ways. In the days following the terrifyingly named ‘Storm Gareth’ it occurred to The Circular that nothing gets the Irish talking quite like an ‘extreme’ weather event. Interestingly, in most of these cases the weather itself is not as extreme as our behaviour.
The availability of social media over the past decade has meant that our curious fascination with the relatively mild, yet confusing weather habits of our small island has been magnified to a chaotic extent. Now that we can publicly share our collective loss of perspective, it has become evidently clear that while Irish people are great at many things, coping with weather is not one of them.
Nowadays it seems as though we are treated to two or three weather events per year that capture the country’s imagination like nothing else. They have become staples of our national calendar, much like any major political, sporting or cultural events. It’s possible that this decade’s representation in the next series of RTE‘s ‘Reeling In The Years’ could be 75% ‘remember when we all went mad because of the snow / wind / sun that time,’ plus a few political crises, some significant referenda and stuff involving Conor McGregor.
With different types of weather, come different challenges for Irish people to deal with. Our lack of sufficient hazard infrastructure to cope with any kind of snow has been proven to cause extreme cases of cabin fever, which in turn has led to some erratic behaviour.
Though thankfully, a year on from ‘Storm Emma‘, our society didn’t threaten to descend into madness in quite the same way when snow arrived at the beginning of this month. Progress, perhaps.
However, it must be said that throughout the numerous cold snaps we have endured in recent times, while many of our Irish brothers and sisters have struggled to survive, others have stepped forward as true leaders in these times of adversity and bravely faced these challenges head-on. Here we can find shining examples of the tenacity of the Irish human spirit.
As the winter becomes spring, goes back to winter again, then briefly spring, winter again, more winter, an hour of summer, then another few weeks of winter, a couple of days of spring and THEN becomes summer, the emergence of the Irish sun and ‘drying weather’ presents a new challenge for Irish people to face. How does one avoid melting in the heat, while dressing appropriately?
There could be an interesting case study in how the use of appropriate clothing can be fundamental to the order of Irish society, and how once this order is compromised by an Irish heatwave, the collapse of civil society is never far away. While such a case study would be beyond the scope of The Circular for the purposes of this article, our social media findings suggest we might be on to something.
Despite the numerous flaws it can expose, social media is an extremely valuable source of data when attempting to analyse and understand the Irish psyche. There is no better way to gauge the pulse of the nation than being on Twitter during an extreme weather warning in Ireland. Take ‘Storm Ophelia‘ from 2017 for example. While devastating many parts of the country, others in more fortunate areas felt insulted by having been forced to remain housebound without being sufficiently ravaged by the storm.
We are a complex people. Human. Flawed. Driven by both fear and aspiration. Yet despite all of the dark, ugly aspects of our character that a bit of sun or snow can expose, the weather has also shone a light on some of our best and most valuable features. Like our artistic side. The undying creative spirit that is simply too powerful for any wind, rain or sleet to deny. The Irish people have proven that no matter how treacherous the weather can be outside, we will never allow it to smother our freedom of expression.