Friday, September 11, 2009

The Irish Indian Summer - at last

After what must be the worst summer in Ireland on record we are finally having a break. The weather for the past few days has been sunny and warm, and while the nights are cool, I can live with that if we have such beautiful days.

It must seem bizarre to those of you living with normal weather with a fairly predictable seasonal pattern, but in Ireland we can get very exercised over a fine spell, especially after what seems like months of unrelenting rainfall.

Ireland isn't called the Emerald Isle for nothing you know, there's a price to pay for all the greenery, it's called the Irish Summer!

It makes a day's work more productive and enjoyable when I don't have to dodge the showers and duck in and out of the car on my calls around my work area of Ring and Old Parish. We get extreme fog when the weather is bad and as a large part is upland moor and forestry commission plantation it can disappear in the fog in a heartbeat, leading to disorientation for those unfamiliar with the area. When I was a student public health nurse I got so lost that my preceptor had to guide me by mobile phone from house to house using whatever landmarks we could identify in the fog.

You can see what it's like in good and bad weather from these photos, and I included two contrasting views of my health centre - in sun (last week) and snow (last February) - weather extremes that we rarely seem to see these years!

I had to go to Dublin for a meeting yesterday, so I took some photos of the Vee - the mountain pass about 8 miles north of Lismore which is one of the most beautiful scenic spots in Ireland and is unsurpassed when the weather is like this. Of course it begged to be photographed and I duly obliged - even the sheep were co-operative! It looks great now as the heather is in full purple bloom, and I love that when I leave home within 10 minutes drive through thickly wooded roads I am in the heart of the open mountain wilderness.

A bit of trivia for film buffs - Kubrick's adaptation of Thackeray's Barry Lyndon with Ryan O'Neal had a battle scene filmed on location in the Knockmealdown Mountains you see here, near the sheep! The area is covered in gorse and heather and is very wild and sparse, open treeless moorland, and any rhododendrons there were planted in the colonial era and have become a nuisance invader, a bit like giant rhubarb (Gunnera) which has become a real Triffid in some parts of the West of Ireland.

The only shame about the bounty of our Indian Summer is that it's dark by half eight most evenings now and autumn chill is in the air, so evening BBQs are probably not an option. Unless of course you have one of those patio heaters that are so global-warming inducing - something that's very tempting if you live in Ireland of the noughties, where the long hot summer is a distant memory and we dream of a spell of warm weather on our too-green island.

Top photos show the Vee - a gap on the Knockmealdown Mountains between Waterford and Tipperary where 4 or 5 counties can be seen from the lookout points. Sunset and daytime view of same spot.


Bottom photos show Old Parish and Ring in fog and sunshine (except for the snow, all taken in the past month!)









13 comments:

Rudee said...

Well you deserved a weather break. I think we shared summer weather this year, but September has been stunning.

I love all of the photos of your area--especially the mountains and the sheep. Thanks for posting them.

Stephanie V said...

We spent a couple of weeks in July exploring Dublin, Cork, and a walking tour in Kerry. It was, for us who came from Vancouver, pretty passable weather. We had dry weather when it mattered and thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Ireland. I'd go back again in a heartbeat. We didn't get down the east coast at all and I enjoyed your photos. I'm glad that fine weather has come to you at last.

jeannette stgermain said...

You are right, beautiful scenery when the sun shines, and seemingly dismal in snow and fog! don't envy having to find your way in the latter case!

The Green Stone Woman said...

Lovely photos of some very beautiful places and you know, any spot is dismal in the snow. It's the same way over here. I hope for little snow this winter and mild weather, though it could turn out quite differently. We had a nice enough summer, but now it is really Fall already and the leaves are starting to change their colors. Still, we get a nice day now and then and a little bit of rain is okay.

Peggy said...

Hi Catherine, up around the Vee is stunning especially in good weather when you can see for miles.They have been getting rid of the rhodedendrons in the Killarney national park for the last number of years as it poisons the ground underneath making it impossible for the native undergrowth to survive.Colouful but deadly!

Catherine said...

Thanks for all the comments!
RUDEE- it is a lovely drive over the Vee although the sheep can pose a traffic hazard at times. I thought we were the only ones with an awful summer! Hopefully autumn won't be too bad - season of mists and mellow fruitfulness it won't be though, the apples are a disaster, no crop at all following the bad summer. Thankfully I still have a ton of apple jelly from last year's crop!

Catherine said...

STEPHANIE V - glad you enjoyed your trip to Ireland - it is only when it is good weather that we really appreciate the beauty of the places we are so familiar with. I don't know Canada and Vancouver at all, never been but would love to - I know Alice Munro's short stories set in Vancouver and Western Canada are very evocative of the area and I love her writing. So maybe it is not all bad weather here, many places get worse but we are champion moaners - specially about the weather! Hope you get back here sometime!

Catherine said...

JEANETTE - thanks for the comment, yes it is dismal in fog and pretty disorienting too. Hopefully we will get a reasonable winter, so far Sept. has been the best month this year. Flowers that should have bloomed months ago are out now, dahlias and cosmos have been given a kick-start, weird indeed. Like your new profile pic!

Catherine said...

IRENE - thanks - we were envying the wonderful weather Holland was getting in August, our niece was bemoaning the heat and she got absolutely no sympathetic hearing from this side! We are disappointed the apples have not done anything this year -we had blossom in May but nothing since, only a few crabby scored and pitted apples. it's a shame as I loved apple tarts from our own crop. The same in many places, I hear.

Catherine said...

PEGGY - the Vee is beautiful indeed, and there are lovely colours in May when the rhododendrons are in flower. They are hedge cutting so much there is little or no flowering along the roadsides there but in the hills and behind Bay Loch it is lovely. Plenty of heather now, that's more subtle. It's great when the sun shines, not so when it's lost in fog! Are you having any apples down your way? Ours are a disaster this year, first time ever they totally failed.

Babaloo said...

You live in a beautiful area, but you know that. :) And you're so right, we tend to forget that the price for all the green many are so fond of is a lot of rain. I guess we can't have it all, at least not in this respect.

Linda said...

Thanks so much for coming by my blog.

Those sheep have got themselves in a bad position.

I have to deal with more fog here than I did in our hometown that we haven't lived in for quite a few years now. I am getting used to it, but don't have to drive in it very often. It is green here at the moment, so yes, it rains on and off as well. I'm sure it is supposed to be hotter by now.

Catherine said...

LINDA - thanks for the visit to my blog! we hadn't been in touch for a while. I guess anywhere you have hilly country there will be fog and that seems to be your present environment. It looks lovely on your blog anyway. Your rain is probably kinder than ours has been - too much this summer, so much so that the flowers are only now coming into bloom months late in my back garden. Oh well it may shorten the winter as they say here!