Bairbre Power: ‘I’ve become obsessed with chasing the sun late in life’

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Bairbre Power: ‘I’ve become obsessed with chasing the sun late in life’


I wouldn’t dream of texting Nuala Carey for a forecast
I wouldn’t dream of texting Nuala Carey for a forecast

My cravings usually run to chocolate at 4pm and again at 9pm and I do like a good iced coffee as I’m walking to work in the mornings. However, my needs have changed dramatically and last week, I was seriously craving some bank holiday sunshine on my neck and back. I missed out on the Easter sunshine and wasn’t averse to getting a few freckles either.

Blue-sky thinking deserves some blue skies, I thought, so I laid plans to circumnavigate Dublin’s semi-circular bay and then sit and contemplate majestic Howth.

After a lifetime working in journalism, I’ve finally secured an office space with a fine view – and there’s sunshine thrown in too. Looking back over the decades, I’ve laboured in all sorts of offices, but none of them were sunny or scenic. There were the early days in the airless and almost windowless press room in the bowels of the historic Four Courts, where I would tap out my copy on vintage typewriters on white paper with carbon copies.

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Then there were the depressing and overheated tribunal halls and Oireachtas committee meeting rooms where you were at risk of nodding off in the afternoon if you were not careful.

My pet hate were the artificially lit council chambers inside dark tinted windows on O’Connell Street where you’d lose Monday afternoons and evenings once a month listening to councillors trying to rescind the county development plan.

The outing to the Hospital Sweepstakes draws in Ballsbridge was a perk on the markings list. Journey out by the sea and then they served lunch!

Looking back, most of my journalist toils were in dark offices where you didn’t notice – or you didn’t have time – to consider if it was sunny outside because you were too busy lashing out copy on noisy typewriters to meet tight deadlines.

Now I have finally achieved what apparently is quite sought after on the employment scene – I have a corner office. Well, to be absolutely truthful, I don’t so much have a corner office as my desk sits in the 90 degree corner of our office. There I am, perched up in the corner of the fourth floor with a bird’s eye view of Talbot Street and trains plying their way into Connolly Station.

Below is Corporation Street, where my late mum’s car was broken into when she was buying books in Eason’s Wholesale. It’s since been renamed James Joyce Street. She’d have enjoyed the literary irony.

To my right, I’ve a splendid 180 degree view of the Dublin mountains and I’ve the perk of afternoon sunshine, but it’s usually gone by the time my toes reach the pavement below.

So last Thursday, I thought I’d tee off the long weekend by meeting friends in town after work. We were making plans and were strategically positioned in The Morgan so we could enjoy the last of the rays through a courtyard roof in the centre of the building. When did I become such a sun fiend late in life, I wondered.

“I want sun on Monday,” I announced, full of optimism. “Well, it will be dry, but it won’t be really sunny like at Easter,” came the reply from one at our table. “How do you know that,” I enquired while looking up to call over a waiter. The words had only left my mouth when I wished I hadn’t said them. I felt a complete idiot. I was only chatting to Nuala Carey, the RTE weather women who was supremely well placed to know what the weather would be like in four days’ time.

In my defence, I will say that I’ve long stopped thinking of Nuala as ‘the weather girl’ to half the country – she’s the best reason for tuning into the evening news and Lottery TV draw. Through friends and meeting her at events, I’ve come to know Nuala as a very bright, thoughtful young woman with lots of interests and a brilliant conversationalist.

I may be craving sunshine, but I wouldn’t dream of texting Nuala for ‘insider information’ about the upcoming weather. Instead I’ll google it in my corner office, with that trompe-l’oeil illusion of sunshine. I’m still very hopeful of a good summer. I must check out frog-spawn patterns in west Kerry. In the meantime, I’m wearing SPF daily. Just in case.

The sunshine WILL come.

Irish Independent