Happy hopping as clear blue skies bring a little light relief summer festivals
The glorious weather certainly brought the crowds out over the weekend, with the most bizarre grouping probably the 1,505 people bouncing on 1,505 multi-coloured space hoppers for a minute on a Dublin street yesterday afternoon.
Mexico had held the world record for the most people bouncing on a space hopper at one time, but it is an Irish title now following the events on Upper Mount Street.
"That was absolutely nuts and great, great fun. I'm completely delighted we've broken the world record," Mark Duckenfield, one of the organisers, said.
"We've seen at least 150,000 people laughing their socks off over the past four days. Dublin and Ireland needs more of this and we're delighted to be bringing such craic to so many people across the city."
The event was part of the Street Performance World Championship.
Sport of a more recognisable nature was a major theme right across the country, with major GAA clashes in Dublin, Cork and Roscommon yesterday.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen was among the attendees at Croke Park, getting the pesky business of the launch of a tax break over with in some haste at Government Buildings so he could watch his beloved Offaly take on Galway in the hurling.
His side got a replay, unlike Ireland's attempts against France in the World Cup play-off.
But a soccer world cup did take place in Dublin yesterday, as the United Nations and Sport Against Racism Ireland organised the inaugural Fair Play Football Cup with players from Somalia, Burma and Nigeria, amongst other places.
They were certainly making hay while the sun shone in Co Meath, where Ireland's only roll-in-the-hay contest took place in Trim as part of the local haymaking festival.
"There were 12 couples taking part, and a good mixture of ages and a big crowd out to see it from all parts of the country," one of the organisers, John Marron, said last night.
"It was a married couple with four kids that won it this year."
The organisers had banned siblings from entering after a local brother-and-sister team picked up the top prize of a romantic getaway in a plush hotel in the inaugural event last year, raising a few eyebrows.
There was more bizarreness on offer in Cavan where the International Hen Festival took place in the county town.
It saw hen parties from Ireland, England and Spain taking part, and the town was presumably overwhelmed by furry pink handcuffs and L-plates.
A slightly more highbrow festival took place in picturesque Dalkey in Dublin, where author Maeve Binchy was amongst those giving classes on how to write a book at the Dalkey Book Festival.
But there was sport amongst the cultural musings too, with local GAA club Cuala staging a mini All-Ireland and a parade in the sunshine.
In Co Westmeath, one of the first music festivals of the year -- the inaugural summer solstice gathering -- sold out at Ballinlough Castle on the back of the sun's stellar performance.
"Everyone involved with the festival was delighted with how it went," music booker Declan Forde said yesterday.
"The atmosphere all weekend has been second-to-none and we're already looking forward to how we can make the Body & Soul Solstice Gathering in 2011 even better."
The festival was due to end this morning as the sun rose for the summer solstice.
Kids were to the forefront at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, when the Jack & Jill Foundation hosted a day for more than 800 people with a Wizard of Oz theme.
John Moloney, Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, told the families that "securing the funding for nurses for Jack & Jill is a priority over the next two to four weeks".
The children's charity is lobbying Mr Moloney, Health Minister Mary Harney and the HSE to increase Jack & Jill's funding level from the current 19pc in order to make its home nursing care service more sustainable and less reliant on mobile phone recycling and public donations.
As the longest day of the year dawns this morning, for once Ireland will be able to take full advantage of the strongest sunshine -- and most sunlight -- of the year.
Temperatures are again set to climb into the mid-20s, and the sun will be shining in the Irish sky for almost 16 hours. We could probably get used to this.