School pupils in the German southern state of Bavaria must feel envious at the end of May. As Irish students in second-level schools break up for the summer, the toiling Bavarians have to wait another two months for the holidays.
Bavarian summer holidays only usually start at the beginning of August.
English students also linger in the classroom through the hot summer months and only break up in late July.
Irish second-level students have the second-longest holidays among OECD countries with a total of 19 weeks, and are only matched by Greece for the number of days spent out of the classroom.
It was no surprise, therefore, that parents reacted with bewilderment to a recent suggestion by Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin that the summer holidays should be extended.
Mr Griffin says: "In recent years, many schools have been returning during the last week of August; a week that was traditionally a busy week for tourism at home.
"If schools reverted back to the later September start date, this would have a positive impact on the economy and jobs."
Hoteliers in places such as Ballybunion and Killarney in Co Kerry may support the idea. But it is likely to be given short shrift as school managers look at summer holidays that already last for a quarter of the year.
Jackie O'Callaghan, spokeswoman for the National Parents' Council, says: "The holidays are long enough as they are. You could push the start of the school holidays to later in June but if you did that, the tourist industry would lose out on business at that time."
Teachers may get longer holidays than their European counterparts, and will begin a half-term break on Monday, but they argue that they work longer hours during term time.
According to OECD, Irish second-level teachers spend 735 hours teaching every year, which is well above the average of 709 hours. However, while Irish teachers may spend more hours in front of the class, in many other countries the teachers' contract requires them to work longer hours overall, to take account of non-teaching duties.
A spokeswoman for the second-level teachers' union, the ASTI, says: "The OECD reports show that Irish second-level teachers spend more time teaching than average. Second-level schools have to be open 167 days. Schools could open slightly later in early September if that was their choice."
Irish primary schools are open for 16 days longer than their second-level counterparts, and their holidays are close to the European average.
Their teaching time is high at 915 hours per year, compared to an OECD average of 790 hours.
INTO spokesman Peter Mullan says: "The teaching time here is high because in other countries you would often have specialists who would come in to teach subjects such as PE or music. Also on the continent, there would also often be specialist teachers of English."
While parents sometimes complain about the holidays, some of them still take their kids on holiday during term time.
One primary teacher said: "These term-time holidays are much less common than they were during the boom. I knew some parents who took their kids on holiday three times during the year, and then wondered why they were not doing well in school. You still get parents who might take their kids away in June, because they can get a bargain then. Who can blame them?"
While the actual teaching time in Ireland is higher than average, there may be a case for distributing it more evenly through the year. In his book Outliers, American writer Malcolm Gladwell popularised research at John Hopkins University showing that students from disadvantaged backgrounds lose out as a result of long school holidays.
This suggests the attainment gap between middle class and and poorer children grows over the holidays, because the former provide a range of cultural experiences during the holidays.
Teachers are not the only ones who would oppose any moves to shorten the summer holidays.
Eleanor Petrie of the Protestant Parents' Association says: "I don't think there is any great appetite for changing the present school holidays. Teachers need time to recharge their batteries.
"I don't think there is much desire for the holidays to be extended into September. By that time, most parents are delighted to have their children going back."
From 2015, schools in England will be given complete freedom to set their own holidays, so long as they stay open for a minimum of 190 days per year.
The move has given rise to fears that a free-for-all will make it impossible for parents with children in different schools to co-ordinate their holiday dates.
Greece 21 weeks
Ireland 19 weeks
US 16 weeks
England 14 weeks
Germany 12 weeks
Australia 12 weeks
Denmark 10 weeks
OECD Average 14 weeks
Figures for second-level schools. Source: OECD