Evelyn Cusack, the face of Irish weather since the 1980s, is retiring today after 42 years with Met Éireann.
As she tidied her office in the national forecaster’s Glasnevin, Dublin, headquarters for the last time on Wednesday, she marvelled at how her world of work has been transformed since she started back in 1981.
“We did so much by hand back then. We used to shade our charts with coloured pencils. There was no internet and very little technology,” she told The Irish Times.
“I’m not sure how good we were at forecasting. We have certainly got a lot better since then.”
Ms Cusack first appeared on our television screens six years after joining Met Éireann.
“I’m glad there was no social media back then because we really didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We certainly didn’t have any training, but we survived,” she said.
Given her highly visible role for more than 30 years, not to mention Irish people’s obsession with the weather, Ms Cusack quickly became one of the most widely recognised faces in the country.
“It was the worst of both worlds,” she said. “I’d all the recognition and none of the money. But I loved it and it was an honour.”
Ms Cusack highlights 2017 to 2018 as a time to remember (or perhaps forget). There was Hurricane Ophelia followed by the Beast from the East.
“Then that summer we had a drought,” she added. “After that, I thought what more can possibly go wrong. Then I went to the National Ploughing Championships and had to warn of a big storm coming. We had no option but to tell them to shut it down. When the winds picked up, the place was almost flattened.”
Until her last days with Met Éireann, Ms Cusack was pushing new things for the forecaster’s website and phone app, which she describes as her “baby”. A new element offering 10-day forecasts for Irish mountain ranges and beaches is being added today.
She is looking forward to visiting the Galápagos Islands early next year, although she admits to “feeling a bit guilty” because of the carbon emissions such a trip will generate.
“Climate change was just beginning to be suggested when I joined Met Éireann,” she said, adding that it will be a singular focus in the future. “We’ll see extremes [in Ireland] but maybe not as extreme as other places. We saw 40-degree temperatures in the UK last year. If we get 40 degrees in Ireland, Europe will be on fire.”