The Irish are well known for always talking about the weather. This is hardly that surprising given that we have as many as five different competing weather systems, that can give us four seasons in one day.
Around rural Ulster the topic of the weather was never more than a sentence away. When a neighbour pulled alongside on his tractor, for a yarn, you’d hear comments like “the rain isn’t far away”, “will we have a summer at all” or “that day doesn’t know what it wants to do.”
In our part of Ulster the word ‘quare’ would get used a fair bit in the summer months e.g. that’s a quare day. It means ‘great’.
Other examples of use – ‘That’s a quare day for the hay’ or ‘They got a quare day for the wedding.’
Among Tyrone folks, I have seen it spelt online as ‘qwer’….but to my ears, it’s ‘quare’ (rhymes with square).
Of course one would often hear the usual old weather-related sayings from time to time e.g. “red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight.”
Here Comes the Sun
I always loved this time of year and seeing the days getting longer. The sun would be starting to edge a little higher, adding a few extra minutes to each new day.
It was a time of renewed hope and looking forward to the warmer months ahead. One couldn’t help but feel uplifted.
The lawn mower, after several months dormant, would be dusted off in the shed and brought out at some point in March.
I’d be singing to myself that late 1960’s winter-into-spring Beatles classic ‘Here Comes the Sun’ as I worked around the garden and did chores on the farm. The dog would mutter and cover his ears.
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
At this time of year, my father would often quote that old saying, “March, in like a lion, out like a lamb” or vice versa. The meaning behind it was that when March begins stormy, it would tend to end quietly, with mild weather. But March this year, has come in like a lamb, mainly calm and peaceful, so maybe it will end with a lion’s roar.
The first day of spring in Ireland astronomically occurs on what’s known as the vernal equinox. This year it begins on the 20th March 2021 (and ends on the longest day i.e. 21st June 2021).
Last year I discovered this delightful Spring-inspired poem in an old local newspaper from 1925. It had been sent in by a reader.
Welcome to Spring
Welcome again to our fair little Isle,
Making all nature respond to thy smile,
Bringing to life, to vigour and bloom
What winter’s stern band shrouded in gloom;
Clothing the valleys with verdure so green.
Shedding a lustre so bright on the stream,
Painting the lilies so pure and so fair.
That all human art could never compare;
Studding the daisies so sweet on the lea,
Where the butterfly hives and hastens the bee;
Tingeing as gold the furze and the broom.
On the rugged hillside in gayest of bloom
Casting a mantle if it were snow
O’er the hawthorn so white and old scraggy sloe;
Tuning the notes of the birds on the spray.
Making earth glad wherever stray;
Robing the trees that winter left bare
With foliage so rich it waves in the air;
Forming shade from the storm if it blows.
Where the birds build their nest and find a repose;
Bringing the swallow from a far away clime
O’er bright groves of orange and laud of the vine,
Back to our shores to farmstead and cot
Through all its sojourn it ne’er had forgot;
Urging the husbandman from his repose,
Cueering his heart as he plants and sows.
Hoping kind nature will lend him a share,
Food for his household, bread and to spare;
Bringing forth flowers, so varied in hue,
Sweet shady spots freshened with dew.
Roused from their beds iu dark mother-earth,
That thy gentle voice has called into birth;
Sending a splendour o’er hill and o’er glen,
With hearts truly glad we greet thee again.
Ye mountains rejoice and glad valleys ring.
We hail with delight the beauties of spring;
Spring cannot last, to the young we would say—
Thy springtime of life is fleeting away—
Make an endeavour, strive for best.
Sow the good seed, and trust for the rest.
Ballymena Observer – Friday 15 May 1925