Life's a beach for sun-lovers – but keep an eye on the tide
AFTER a feast of sizzling in the sun, most of us can look forward to another pleasant day as we reluctantly head back to work or school this morning.
Beaches, parks and lakeside areas were thronged over the weekend as the nation basked in temperatures which climbed into the mid-20s.
Small children must be wondering if they have woken up in a different country so long has it been since we've enjoyed such an extended spell of fine weather.
On what was undoubtedly the warmest weekend of the year, there were those who experienced unfamiliar problems.
In Oughterard, Co Galway, the annual sheep racing festival had to be delayed until the evening to ensure the woolly competitors were not overcome before they reached the finishing tape.
And in Wexford, one unfortunate beach lover attempted to get rather too close to the water, with the result that their car was at risk of becoming completely submerged by the incoming tide on Duncannon Beach.
The sunshine provided a welcome boost to events around the country, not least the Wicklow 100/200-mile cycle challenge, which saw 2,373 cyclists take part.
The route is designed to equal a mountain stage of the Tour de France, and yesterday participants had no problem imagining how that would feel as they pedalled past stunning views in scorching heat.
And while many beaches were overcrowded, one lucky family managed to find a strand which they shared with just six other sunseekers.
The Curries, from north Belfast, had no problems finding a parking spot at Binion Bay on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal.
"We have been coming to Binion at least once a year for many years and we nearly always have the whole place to ourselves," said Gerard Currie, who enjoyed the summer fun with sons Michael, Brendan and their pal Dean Duffy.
"I would say it's the quietest beach in Ireland. It's like our own El Dorado," he laughed.
But all good things must come to an end and the Met office had some depressing news for the sun-soaked Irish.
Forecaster Pat Clarke said rain was expected in the south west before this morning and would continue to push across Munster during the day.
But Ulster, Leinster and the midlands will still enjoy a dry day, with temperatures in the mid-teens. By tomorrow, however, we can expect rain everywhere, although it will be intermittent.
The week ahead promises dry spells broken by showers and temperatures in the mid-to-high teens rather than the early 20s.
"It will be much more changeable and cooler, with breezes from the south and south west," Mr Clarke said.