Some like it hot: Sun, sea and rock­et­ing sales

Ire­land siz­zled in the heat this week, as the mer­cury rose above 32 de­grees. Drink sales rock­eted, home hol­i­days boomed and out­doorsy types made hay as the sun shone. KIM BIELENBERG and JOHN MEAGHER re­port

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - AGENDA - @KIMBIELENBERG

By the mid­dle of this week, the weather in Ire­land was so hot that the go­ril­las and the orang­utans in Dublin Zoo climbed to the tops of the trees to catch a breeze. They were the lucky ones. In of­fices and other work­places across the coun­try, em­ploy­ees swel­tered — long­ing for a cool evening sit­ting on a gar­den terrace, swim­ming along a seashore or tak­ing a dip in a lake.

Mo­torists in their cars could hardly be­lieve what they were see­ing as the tem­per­a­ture gauges on dash­boards soared over 32 de­grees. In these sul­try con­di­tions, the air along the roads shim­mered — and the tar sur­face melted in some places.

Just as Storm Emma, the bl­iz­zard event of early March, cre­ated a frenzy as house­hold­ers stocked up with sliced pan, the June 2018 heat­wave has cre­ated an­other form of weather ma­nia.

This time it has mostly been an oc­ca­sion for cel­e­bra­tion, un­less you are a farmer wor­ried about you fod­der — or your wa­ter sup­ply is about to run dry.

In this coun­try, we do not like to deny our­selves an op­por­tu­nity to drink — and the heat­wave seems to have en­cour­aged us to quench our thirst by tak­ing to the bot­tle, or the beach­side can.

Fig­ures supplied to Re­view from Tesco for this week show sales of beer have surged by 62pc, and sales of cider are up 116pc.

Those who like to celebrate the high tem­per­a­tures with a glass of fizz on the pa­tio have pushed sales of Pros­ecco up by 110pc, while sun wor­ship­pers are also quaffing gal­lons of gin in the heat (up 124pc).

No won­der so many are wak­ing up the fol­low­ing morn­ing with sun­burn and a hang­over.

Ac­cord­ing to Met Éire­ann fore­caster Joanna Donnelly, a heat­wave is now de­fined in Ire­land as five con­sec­u­tive days with tem­per­a­tures over 25°C.

That is what she fore­cast on Fri­day of last week, as she saw on the charts blue skies stretch­ing out in front of her un­til this week­end and be­yond.

She could see an anti-cy­clone mov­ing up from the Por­tuguese is­lands fur­ther south in the At­lantic, and she dubbed this weather sys­tem the “Azores High”.

“The weather has been good for nearly all of May and June, apart from Storm Hec­tor giv­ing us a kick up the butt,” Donnelly says. “At the same time, farm­ers have a lot less rain­fall than they could do with.”

The weather may have been glo­ri­ous this week, but Joanna was avoid­ing the sun­shine com­pletely, hav­ing had a skin can­cer — a basal cell car­ci­noma — re­moved six years ago.

The me­te­o­rol­o­gist likens this hot spell to the long hot sum­mer of 1995 when the mer­cury rose over 25°C on 27 days in Kilkenny — and the Car­low tem­per­a­ture hit 31.5°C at its peak.

She also com­pares the present heat­wave to 1976, the sum­mer of the great drought.

“I was five in 1976, but I re­mem­ber it,” says Donnelly. “We were on a camp­ing hol­i­day in Span­ish Point, and we all got burned to a crisp.

“I am fairly con­fi­dent that’s how I got skin can­cer,” she says. Since she had her can­cer re­moved, she has not gone out in the sun at all.

BOOST FOR HO­TELS

The heat­wave could not have come at a bet­ter time for Ir­ish ho­tels, par­tic­u­larly those in coastal ar­eas.

Book­ings for for­eign get­aways may have soared in the first half of the year as hol­i­day­mak­ers booked dur­ing our bleak win­ter, but the heat­wave has com­pen­sated for this as a grow­ing num­ber of Ir­ish hol­i­day­mak­ers book ho­tels and coastal prop­er­ties for short breaks.

Ir­ish Ho­tels Fed­er­a­tion (IHF) mem­bers re­port that the fine weather has seen book­ings surge in re­cent weeks.

Paul Diver of the Sand­house Ho­tel on the sea at Ross­nowl­agh, Co Done­gal has been de­lighted by the hot spell, as fam­i­lies flock to the beach.

“It’s been ab­so­lutely bril­liant af­ter such a long win­ter. Peo­ple are com­ing to the sea­side in droves. They are just pack­ing up and com­ing.

“Our ac­com­mo­da­tion sales have rock­eted over the past few weeks. Nor­mally at this time of year, we would be half full but we are full ev­ery night.”

Paul hopes that with a long spell of good weather, peo­ple will think twice about a for­eign hol­i­day. This week at Ross­nowl­agh, bus­loads of pri­mary school kids ar­rived on the beach — taken by their teach­ers as a treat to mark the end of the school year.

“They don’t need phones or Wi-Fi. All the chil­dren want is a bucket and spade to build sand cas­tles — and to splash around in the wa­ter.”

The hot weather has also been a boon to the Shan­non boat­man ‘Vik­ing’ Mike McDon­nell, as he takes pas­sen­gers on cruises from Athlone into Lough Ree.

The boats are full, and he has taken down the front roof of the boat be­cause there is no prospect of rain.

“It is in­cred­i­ble the dif­fer­ence it cre­ates in peo­ple’s moods — ev­ery­body’s po­lite to one an­other.”

Vik­ing Mike is now part of the scenery on the lake and the swans know him so well that they come to feed out of his hand.

The elephants (at Dublin Zoo) love cov­er­ing them­selves in this thick muck, which is rich in min­er­als, and it acts as a kind of sun­block

WA­TER FOR BIRDS

Niall Hatch of Bird­watch Ire­land says the heat­wave has had an ef­fect on bird life.

“Some birds have done well in the good weather — when you have warm con­di­tions, it is good for in­sects and they are a source of food for many birds.

“At the mo­ment we are ad­vis­ing peo­ple to leave out wa­ter for birds, be­cause streams may have dried up.”

The tem­per­a­ture rises have been so dra­matic that dress codes have been re­laxed, even among the fusty denizens of the le­gal fra­ter­nity in the Four Courts.

A no­tice in the Bar­ris­ter’s Tea Room an­nounced that lawyers would be given spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion to re­move their jack­ets, just this once.

Work­place con­sul­tant Peter Cos­grove says com­pa­nies need to loosen their dress codes in the heat, and not in­sist that men wear ties all the time. “Com­pa­nies need to change their poli­cies. A lot of com­pa­nies no longer re­quire their staff to wear ties any more un­less, per­haps they are go­ing to a meet­ing with a cus­tomer,” he says.

In other work­places, staff may have to wear par­tic­u­lar cloth­ing such as over­alls — for health and safety rea­sons.

“There is very lit­tle you can do about that — but they should be given more breaks and have a good sup­ply of wa­ter,” says Cos­grove.

The for­mer di­rec­tor at CPL re­cruit­ment says the tem­per­a­ture in work­places was one of the big­gest causes of com­plaint among em­ploy­ees.

He says some of­fices, par­tic­u­larly on top floors, have in­ad­e­quate fans and air con­di­tion­ing for this type of weather.

He sug­gests that when the tem­per­a­tures get un­com­fort­able, some em­ploy­ees should be al­lowed to work from home, if that is fea­si­ble, and em­ploy­ers should adapt, pos­si­bly by hold­ing meet­ings in cooler cof­fee shops.

Supermarkets also have to adapt to the heat.

They now have so­phis­ti­cated com­puter or­der­ing sys­tems, where they can work out de­mand for cer­tain prod­ucts by feeding in weather fore­casts.

Ge­off Byrne, chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Tesco Ire­land, says the chain can know from his­tor­i­cal data how many more prod­ucts such as straw­ber­ries, beer and Coca-Cola they need in the shops with each de­gree of ris­ing tem­per­a­ture.

The com­puter was able to work out this week that Tesco stores needed 300pc more sun­cream, 50pc more burg­ers for bar­be­cues, and 60pc more sausages. “We feed live in­for­ma­tion into the sys­tem on weather and events such as the World Cup. This en­sures re­li­able prod­uct avail­abil­ity,” Byrne says.

FARMER CON­CERNS

This week, the su­per­mar­ket chain has sold 3 mil­lion litres of wa­ter, with de­mand soar­ing in some ar­eas as cus­tomers pre­pare for pos­si­ble cuts to mains sup­plies.

While the heat­wave may be a cause of cel­e­bra­tion across much of the coun­try, in some ar­eas farm­ers fret­ted about the dry spell af­fect­ing grass qual­ity for live­stock.

And most of all, they wor­ried about wa­ter sup­plies be­ing cut off — with a typ­i­cal dairy cow re­quir­ing 120 litres of wa­ter per day.

The Long­ford farmer and au­thor of The Cow

Book, John Con­nell, feels for­tu­nate that the River So­ran flows through his land.

“The river is very low at the mo­ment and farm­ers will need some rain soon,” says Con­nell. He says the fine weather has been good for mak­ing hay. Although the heat­wave has given rise to con­cerns among many farm­ers, Con­nell feels grate­ful that he lives in the coun­try­side dur­ing the good weather.

“Yesterday, I was driv­ing along the M50 in Dublin and I thought to my­self that this is tor­ture.

“Liv­ing in the coun­try, I can have a bar­be­cue in the evening, go fish­ing and swim in the lo­cal lake.”

As the tem­per­a­tures soared dur­ing the week, there was no shortage of of­fi­cials of­fer­ing nan­ny­ish advice. Ir­ish Rail help­fully handed out bot­tles of wa­ter to com­muters and ad­vised pas­sen­gers to “wear com­fort­able clothes and not to sit in di­rect sun­light”.

Even the elephants in Dublin Zoo were pro­tected as keep­ers cre­ated a wal­low, so that they could roll around in a pool of muddy sand.

Gerry Creighton, the op­er­a­tions man­ager who has worked in the zoo since he was 15, says: “The elephants love cov­er­ing them­selves in this thick muck, which is rich in min­er­als, and it acts as a kind of sun­block.”

Like many other out­door at­trac­tions, the zoo has en­joyed a surge in the num­ber of vis­i­tors in the good weathers. As they looked at the elephants en­joy­ing their pool party in Dublin tem­per­a­tures of 28°C, many vis­i­tors must have been en­vi­ous.

All case stud­ies in con­ver­sa­tion with John Meagher

PHOTO: PA­TRICK BROWNE

Surf’s up: Ber­nadette and Craig But­ler in Tramore.

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