A Limerick summer like no other and the livin’ isn’t easy

Patricia Feehily


Patricia Feehily

A Limerick summer like no other  and the livin’ isn’t   easy

Unlike Patricia Feehily, Michael and young Cillian Hehir, Hyde Road were spotted in the People’s Park recently enjoying the summer sunshine                                                          

II HATE to say this in case I jinx the summer, but I can’t resist it either. I should be basking in the glorious and long awaited summer, but I have retreated indoors instead with an electric fan on the coffee table turned up to gale force velocity and sending everything that isn’t tied down, into an icy cold vortex. If I’m not careful, I’ll start a snowstorm.

The trouble is I’m not able for the heat, and the sun is leaning on me. Now, there’s a phrase from my distant childhood that I hadn’t heard for a long time, not, I think, since one long hot 1950’s summer when a neighbour who had come to help with the hay-saving, suddenly stuck his pitchfork in the ground and trudged wearily out of the meadow, announcing to all and sundry that the sun was “lanin’” on him. 

Everyone thought he was a malingerer, but now I know how he felt. I thought of him one sweltering day last week when I, myself, was trudging up the steep main street to the post office in Killaloe - the most inappropriately sited public building in the world apart from the pillar box outside Kathmandu – when someone I didn’t even know asked sympathetically if the sun was leaning on me. 

I could hardly reply, my already gasping breath becoming suddenly choked with nostalgia. That’s what global warming does to 


I know, I know, it’s only three months since I was snow-bound, isolated and shivering, out of bread, rather than breath, and cut off from humanity by what looked like a major avalanche. I’d have dug myself out only that I was afraid the sides would cave in on me, and when I did eventually emerge, the shop had run out of bread.

 I thought then that we had been condemned to an icy eternity because of our persistent environmental vandalism and that we’d never see a sunny day again. My husband, as late as early May, thought the grass would never grow again and we’d be bankrupt.

But here we are, basking in an early June heat wave or sitting inside, gasping for air, with all the windows and doors open and a fan desperately trying to convert the humidity to a balmy breeze. Everyone I meet is smiling ecstatically and saying ‘lovely day isn’t it?’ What can I say only that the sun is leaning on me. That’s why I’m carrying an umbrella. We’re just not used to it, I’m told.

We sure aren’t. The grass is growing at an alarming rate and nature has gone barmy, making up for lost time. I have already cut the lawn four times this week and it still looks like a jungle. Himself says I’m going to cause desertification. I’m up to my ears in buttercups and daisies and I can’t keep any of them at bay. The bumble bee, which I thought was extinct, has re-emerged, bigger and louder than ever, defying gravity with an insolence that I envy. I’m not scared of bumble bees now, mind you, but some of those I’ve encountered this summer look like they’re out for revenge.

Everyone is making hay while the sun shines, but neither Cork nor Limerick are beat and by the looks of things, they won’t be either, until the sun starts leaning on them, and one of them knocks the other out. It looks like being a summer in the doldrums for the rest of us, with the sun beating down on us mercilessly, accompanied by all kinds of hallucinations. Any day now, if the sunshine continues, I expect to find a dragon fruit cactus plant sprouting out the back, laden with fruit. 

Next year, I told himself, we’re going to throw out the triple glazed windows and install air conditioning in the house. 

I had to say ‘next year’ because he still hasn’t forgiven me for allowing myself to be scammed by a fake tree surgeon this year which left us low in funds. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get my own way again.

Anyway, if it’s any consolation for those of you who find it all a bit too much, this is the kind of weather that Kavanagh said will stand out in the memory beyond “all the grey infinities of normal weather”. I hope I haven’t jinxed it though by complaining about the sun leaning so heavily on me, but where would I be if I couldn’t grouse, now and then, about the weather? 

 To make amends for offending Apollo, however, let me invoke the words of an old Irish blessing: “may the road rise before you, may be the wind be at your back and may the sun always shine warmly on your face.” Without leaning too heavily on you, that is.