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Siona Carroll, Grace Leonard and Nicole
Sweeney hit Lahinch Beach, Co Clare

Siona Carroll, Grace Leonard and Nicole Sweeney hit Lahinch Beach, Co Clare

Lucy (6), Amy (7) and Isabelle (4) O'Donoghue make a splash in Dun Laoghaire

Lucy (6), Amy (7) and Isabelle (4) O'Donoghue make a splash in Dun Laoghaire

Aleesha Li enjoys St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Aleesha Li enjoys St Stephen's Green, Dublin

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Siona Carroll, Grace Leonard and Nicole Sweeney hit Lahinch Beach, Co Clare

IT seems people can't get enough of the great outdoors now that a whiff of Mediterranean sunshine has arrived on our shores.

Record numbers visited Dublin's Botanic Gardens over the last few days, with enthusiasts anxious to make the most of the unseasonably sunny weather.

"We're unbelievably busy at the moment; it's all because of the weather we're having. I'd say it's the busiest we've ever been at the gardens; definitely this year anyway. The weather is just glorious and I think people just want to be out and about in the fresh air," said spokesman Brian Furlong.

"And the other good news is that the sunshine has definitely provided a growth spurt -- I've noticed that there is slightly earlier flowering taking place," he added.

And it was another day of wall-to-wall sunshine yesterday, with Met Eireann revealing a new record has been set at Belmullet, Co Mayo, where the mercury hit 20.4 degrees. The previous March record of 19.5 degrees was recorded in 2005.

"At 17 degrees celsius, Castlederg in Co Tyrone was one of the highest recorded temperatures. Finnercamp in Co Donegal and Newport in Co Mayo both hit 18 degrees celsius," said a Met Eireann spokesperson.

And it appears the unseasonable sunshine has also lifted some of dark clouds of recession by encouraging punters to part with their cash.

Woodies DIY said the sale of lawnmowers, lawn feed and weedkiller has shot up in recent days.

"Since Thursday the number of lawnmowers we've sold has increased by 50pc across all our stores. Lawn feed plus moss and weed killer is also flying out the door. This is the first proper break in the weather that we've had all year so people can get out and about and enjoy the outdoors," said a Woodies spokesman.

Brown Thomas on Dublin's Grafton Street also recorded a spike in trading over the weekend -- although of a more glamourous variety.

"There's been a surge in swimwear and sunglasses in particular. When there's sunshine people start to think about their summer holidays," said a spokesperson for the store.

Irish Independent