Martin Sweeney – Straide’s own Weatherman
For well over half a century, Straide man Martin Sweeney has provided Met Éireann with weather data, recorded at his Observation Station in the village of Straide. Martin began his reports on March 1st, 1963, and every day since that date, without fail, has provided Met Éireann with the valuable daily data.
Although Martin is quick to acknowledge the help that he gets from his neighbours and friends if called upon, the vast majority of the work is done by Martin himself.
It requires skill and know-how in reading no fewer than 11 recording instruments. Martin records and reports the following data on a daily basis; The maximum and minimum temperatures of the previous day, the current air temperature, the temperature of the grass, air humidity, and soil temperature a depth of 4 inches. He also provides rain gauge records and Sunshine records for the previous day.
Finally, there are the observational records of the percentage of cloud cover and cloud type. The whole process takes 15 – 20 minutes and provides valuable data to Met Éireann which helps weather forecasters to make an accurate prediction of overall weather patterns.
Martin is one of over 500 voluntary observers dotted around the country, and he is currently one of the longest-serving observers. Martin’s fascination with weather data began with the Big Snow of 1947. A few years later he bought his first barometer which he still has to this day. On March 1st, 1963 he began to officially record the data for Met Éireann. In those days, the data was sent to Met Éireann by post, which he could vouch for as Martin himself worked as a postman for many years!. Today, Martin stays in tune with modern technology and transmits his daily report via SMS texts and email.
Apart from a half-century of data that he has sent to Met Éireann’s head office, Martin also keeps his own records in careful storage. Those records provide a small window into the climate of Straide over the past fifty-something years. For a long time, the record high temperature in Straide was that of June 30th, 1976, when the mercury reached 29.5 degrees Celsius. This was broken on 27th June 2018 when a temperature of 31degrees Celsius was recorded. The coldest temperature recorded by Martin is also relatively recently, on Christmas Day 2010, when it plummeted to 17.5 degrees Celsius below freezing. This is still the record low temperature for December the 26 Counties. The wettest day on record was on October 27th, 1989 when 3.73 inches fell within a single day. The wettest month during the past 50 years was November 2009 when 11.6 inches of rain fell.
Through his interest in all things Meteorological, Martin has made many friends and has travelled far and wide to observe the extremes of climate conditions. He has visited Greenland and Iceland on numerous occasions, observing the Northern Lights and the Glaciers of Greenland and Iceland. He has been to the edge of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, to an altitude of Ten Thousand Feet in the Austrian Alps, to The tropical climate of The Azores and to the volcanic landscape of the Canary Islands. The friendships he has made have also taken him to The USA, England, Scotland, Belgium, France, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Crete.
On the main evening news of Easter Sunday 2013, to mark Martin’s fifty years of service, Met Éireann’s Evelyn Cusack paid a glowing tribute to Martin, describing him as being an “incredibly dedicated volunteer” whose work helps Met Éireann predict weather patterns.
Even though he is in his 85th year, (born on November 1934) Martin has no intention of hanging up his barometer! He says that technology is changing the way that Observation Stations are being operated, and that change is something that he is more than willing to embrace. He is hopeful that in the near future, the Straide Weather Station will be fully automated and guarantee its existence long into the future.