I could say that Ronan Tynan’s take on “Ride On” at Gaelic Park Monday afternoon surpassed the version that made Christy Moore famous. That his version of “From a Distance” emasculated Bette Midler. That his “Danny Boy” and “God Bless America” left nary a dry eye on the already misty afternoon in the south suburbs.
Or that his “Sexy Back” had more swagger than Justin Timberlake could ever muster.
But all of the above would be a wild guess – and a big Irish lie.
See, I wound up not venturing out to Oak Forest last weekend, in large part because of that weather shaman on WGN, Tommy Skilling – the guy who got his start forecasting with a sock puppet in Milwaukee.
Sad to admit, but Skilling and his ilk have turned me and a good part of the rest of the metro area into a weather wimp. Most of us now err on the side of caution – and then some. We’ve become afraid of clouds. The mere mention of snow causes runs on milk and bread. And things like this poor excuse for a spring have broken many a spirit.
See, Sunday was nice for about three hours, but come evening and when the aptly named for this weekend Gaelic Storm was supposed to play, it was cold and damp up in the northwest suburbs where I live.
Plus Tommy and the other weather people said there might be thunderstorms, which make me hide under the bed like a German Shepherd.
Monday turned out to be damper, like November in May but without the turkey dinner – though I did wind up having some pretty damn good ribs for dinner. And again, there were supposed to be dogs and cats living together-style thunderstorms again.
Only thing is it just stayed bleak, but at least up this way. a minimum amount of rain. Plus, under such conditions – which is to say Irish weather – I could convince no one with me to venture out to Gaelic Park. Funny, ain’t it, how we want to hear Celtic music under California conditions.
As it is, according to Skilling, Monday was the coldest Memorial Day since 1997 and 33 degrees lower than last year’s 95. And he’s calling for Chicago to turn from Ireland to Southeast Asia over the course of the next few days, with heat, humidity and monsoon-like rains.
I checked with my pal Traci Clarke who reminded me that Gaelic Park quite frequently would have at least one day of crap weather. The Clarkes used to sell Irish jewelry at fests around the country so they know of what they speak.
Taking their experiences and mine into account, I am going to offer my own weather prognostications for a few upcoming outdoor events to help you plan.
Chicago Scottish Festival & Highland Games – This event is held the Friday and Saturday of Fathers Day weekend (June 14 and 15 this year). Those big guys who throw telephone polls will tell you that the Friday night of this event invariably has had rain or some threat of such as the Scots do some sort of Druid dance – or hold a ceilidh. One of those.
Last year, the storm held off until Saturday and mysteriously headed north, dumping on Arlington Heights, but leaving those of us in kilts in Itasca mostly dry. More importantly, it didn’t blow up our kilts. Or unnecessarily dampen the whisky.
So bring rain gear, and maybe some footwear you don’t mind getting muddy, as the field here can turn into a bog.
Irish American Heritage Festival – July 12, 13, and 14 this year. It’s July. It’s Chicago. Do the meteorological math yourself. Heat and humidity are the norm. But it doesn’t matter. You get exercise by heading up to the ballroom at the top of the Irish American Heritage Center then rest in the sweet air conditioning.
So don’t worry about the weather for this one – but hit the Stairmaster.
Milwaukee Irish Fest – Aug. 15 – 18 this year. This is a tough one to figure, but the Clarkes can tell you there usually is at least one day that involves rain. Last year, I found that out the hard way: I could have gone to a Korean street fair in Chicago. But no. I get up to Milwaukee and like some dystopian Brigadoon, it starts raining right when I get to the border.
Meanwhile my buddy back in Chicago says the weather is sunny there and the barbecue is awesome – while I am having some damp Irish nachos.
Still, I got some nice photos out of the day – including the one here with this story of the young woman with the umbrella, like an Impressionist painting, had the Impressionists liked Irish Fests and were alive in 2012.
In mid August, this fest can be downright sultry, and thensome, given it’s on Summerfest grounds, which offer great vistas, but are concrete. And do not remind me of the time I headed up to the rooftop there where they were serving Jameson, nor of the corned beef sandwich I attempted to eat thereafter.
On the other hand, the late August days can have that bittersweet nip off autumn about them, which could be said of good deal of Irish music, come to think of it.
So bring a sweater, rain gear, sunblock – and this year a map as the roads are under construction.