The name the Romans gave to Ireland was Hibernia, which means ‘Land of Winter’, and cold feet may have been a factor in their decision to leave the Irish to their own devices. The weather is our main topic of conversation and has done its bit in shaping our character. This lively overview shines a light on incidents when the weather – generally bad – changed the course of Ireland’s history. Along the way it takes in those years – and there were quite a few – when the sun really didn’t shine. We learn how Oliver Cromwell, invincible in war, most likely caught his death from a Cork mosquito. The Irish climate created the heavy soil that made the potato flourish in Ireland like nowhere else, with disastrous consequences. David Lean came to Ireland fully intending to give the County Kerry weather a starring role in his film Ryan’s Daughter. He didn’t make another film for fourteen years. Our professional forecasters still hedge their bets by predicting four seasons in one day – and still often get it laughably wrong. But there are sunny stories too, such as how, in 1973, the brooding Antrim weather produced one of rock music’s greatest album covers, and how the Irish legend of the crock of gold at the rainbow’s end came about. Remarkably, Ireland’s weather has remained the same moderate mixed blessing since the Romans left.
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