Widespread drought this summer caused an epidemic of wildfires across the northern hemisphere. Even Ireland, normally protected by Atlantic mists and drizzle, was not spared.
On Bray Head, a seaside height just south of Dublin, a gorse fire uncovered a forgotten relic: the word ‘Eire’, the official name for Ireland in Gaelic, in letters several metres high, made from white-painted stones arranged on the ground.
This sign, historians recalled, was one of about 80 markers placed around the coasts during the Second World War to warn belligerent pilots that they were approaching neutral Ireland. A poor and newly independent state, Ireland had no real air force or navy to defend its shores. As the Battle of the Atlantic raged around it, it could only watch and hope that the storm would eventually pass.
Ten eventful years after the notorious Celtic Tiger property bubble almost ruined the economy, Ireland is again staking its future on waiting and hoping.