Winking weather man explores the forecast during Science Festival 2018 in Laois

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


weather met éireann

Gerald Fleming

One of Met Éireann's most famous and popular weather forecasters is set to be one of the big attractions of the Midlands Science Festival 2018 which is working with libraries for the first time this year to promote the sciences.

The week-long event takes place across the region for people of all ages from November 11 – 18. It includes events, workshops and performances about cutting-edge science from world-leading speakers and academics. The organisers, the Midlands Science team, say there be lots of fun for people of all ages throughout the festival week.

The recently retired head of Met Éireann, Gerald Fleming, is sure to be one of the highlights. Apart from his accurate forecasting Mr Fleming was popular for his friendly wink to viewers at the end of one of his many RTÉ weather bulletins.

The meteorologist will speak on the science of forecasting and weather on Tuesday, November 13 in the Midlands Park Hotel.

"I am delighted to be partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival and I look forward to coming to Laois to discuss something which is so universal to us all. My talk will explore a background to the science of climate change and will detail the work done in recent decades both to refine the science and to provide adequate, understandable summaries of the key issues to help society decide on appropriate policies and actions.

"We will examine key questions as to whether we can enjoy a sustainable lifestyle while protecting our atmosphere. Events like ‘Science Week’ are a wonderful opportunity to take a closer look at so many different issues that affect us in day-to-day life and the weather is certainly one which has begun to spark more and more interest, particularly when we reflect on the year which has just passed. I look forward to debate and discussion on the night and hopefully plenty of questions and curiosity about the science of weather," said Mr Fleming.

Midlands Science Festival Director Jackie Gorman looked forward to the forecaster's talk and other science week events.

"We are delighted to bring a whole range of science events to Laois and this particular talk which is open to the public is one which promises to be both informative and entertaining. Known for his engaging style of presenting, trademark wink and sign-off, Gerald recently retired from Met Eireann, where he had served as head of forecasting for many years. He has been involved in weather forecasting and public engagement with forecasts for many serious weather events in Ireland over the years.

"Weather is a pretty safe topic of conversation especially here in Ireland. It's too hot or it's too cold, it can affect whether schools or transport networks run and it can influence the decision of wedding dates and potential holiday-makers year on year. The science behind the natural forces that cause the weather is extremely interesting and this event will explore views on how we can engage with the challenges presented by climate change and extreme weather events, so do come along and hear all about it on the night," she said.

This evening will also include students from Timahoe National School presenting findings from their school weather station.

There are 120 events organised during the Festival.

The public can look forward to a unique new event called ‘Drawing With Light - The Science of Photography’ in Stradbally Library on the evening of November 15.

This event with Midlands photographer Veronica Nicholson will involve a walk to explore the practice of photography and the impact of light. This workshop is for adults and all participants are encouraged to bring their cameras on the night.

The Rediscovery workshops will also be back in the Midlands during Science Week, this time in Mountmellick Library on November 16th.

In a 90 minute hands-on and fun workshop with the team from The Rediscovery Centre, children will learn about a whole range of science and environmental topics. This fun and engaging workshop is being provided by the Rediscovery Centre who is focussed on the science of sustainability in our communities.

A unique poetry reading by the writer, Eleanor Hooker and a discussion with the journalist, Claire O’Brien on poetry and how it describes the natural world as compared to science, how the arts and humanities relate to each other takes place in Portlaoise Library on Friday, November 16th.

This promises to be a wide-ranging and interesting dialogue about the conflicts and connections between the arts and science. We will be celebrating science in schools and campuses, in libraries and outdoors and we want as many people as people to come along and see that science is not just for academics and lab coats-it is everywhere and there for us all to enjoy.’

Simon Close from Wriggle Learning will be working with teachers during the festival.

"Wriggle Learning is delighted to be providing exciting training for primary and secondary school teachers during this years ScienceWeek in the Midlands. Our continuous professional development (CPD) model strives to work with educators throughout Ireland to develop their skills and maximise the use of technology in the classroom.

"The teacher is never going to be replaced by technology, but we need to be future ready. It can be a challenge to select the most effective tools while not losing sight of your goals and intentions for student learning and that's why we are here to help. We look forward to participating in this year's Midlands Science Festival and in helping to drive the digital journey of local schools in a collaborative and interactive way," he said.

This is the sixth year that a dedicated programme of free science events is being rolled out in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford. It brings together a large number of interested participants including science communicators, performers and researchers, science and technology speakers, science and TY students, mini scientists and the general public from all over the Midlands and beyond.

The Festival Director said the festival and this year will be different from previous festivals as it is being co-hosted with our partners in the Midlands libraries and will take place in county library venues all over the region.

"Attendees should expect to find a range of speaking events, workshops and performances about cutting-edge science from world-leading speakers and academics," she said.

Science Week, which is managed by ‘SFI Discover’ the education and public engagement programme of Science Foundation Ireland, will take science out of the lab and into libraries, theatres and primary school halls, giving people a variety of fun ways to explore and open up a multitude of ideas for a potential future career in science, technology, engineering and maths.

See for more event details.