It's time to make hay while the sun shines
Spell of dry weather expected to last for rest of the week
IT MAY be a bit too early to dream that the sodden, grey weather has gone and that summer has finally arrived.
But many parts of the country enjoyed "balmy" conditions as the sun made a welcome appearance.
And today is shaping up to be one of the warmest of the year so far, especially in parts of the south-east and south with good, dry, settled conditions in store for the rest of the week.
"Grab it while you can but we expect a lot of dry weather for the coming week and that is good news," said Met Eireann forecaster Harm Luijkx.
Yesterday, temperatures reached 16C to 18C in places and could climb to 19C today.
It will also be more of the same for the rest of the week, with mostly dry and mild conditions, good sunny spells and variable cloud and just a few "spots" of rain – mostly along Atlantic coasts. But temperatures are expected to drop slightly before recovering next weekend.
Farmers struggling with a shortage of fodder welcomed the improving weather, which will allow grass to grow.
A spokesman for the Irish Farmers' Association said he hoped it would allow farmers to put cattle out in fields rather than rely on fodder. However, he said what was desperately needed after the long winter was a "prolonged dry spell".
Efforts to tackle the fodder shortage are continuing, with supplies coming in from France, Britain and Holland.
The sudden burst of summer-like weather is all down to an area of high pressure that is keeping bad weather fronts at bay over the Atlantic.
The fine conditions provided the perfect backdrop to the GAA season as Galway took on Mayo in the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter-final and Ulster and Leinster Championship rounds were played in Cavan and Westmeath. The sunny conditions are also expected to spell the arrival of a whole host of insects which have been waiting for warm weather to burst into life.
And even though the sun didn't shine, there was little to dampen the spirits of 50,000 rugby fans who poured into Dublin for the Heineken Cup final. Unlike yesterday, Saturday was dull and drizzly - as if to stubbornly remind the thousands of supporters that they were in Ireland, not France, for the Clermont Auvergne v Toulon clash.
But despite the grey skies, the city centre was a riot of colour as the rival teams – plus a healthy smattering of neutrals – contributed an estimated €12m to hotels along with a healthy spend in pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions.