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Sun helps us spring into summer...until Thursday at least

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Shannon Dowling (5) at
Portmarnock Beach
yesterday

Shannon Dowling (5) at Portmarnock Beach yesterday

People soak up the sun on Dublin’s Grand Canal yesterday

People soak up the sun on Dublin’s Grand Canal yesterday

Ellen Patterson in St
Stephen's Green

Ellen Patterson in St Stephen's Green

Molly King and Laura Coyle in
Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, yesterday

Molly King and Laura Coyle in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, yesterday

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Shannon Dowling (5) at Portmarnock Beach yesterday

Yesterday was the official start of summertime -- and we basked in temperatures that put holiday hot-spots in the shade.

Parts of the country were hotter than Greece or Tenerife and even left some Mediterranean resorts shivering. There were blue skies throughout the day as temperatures peaked at 20.3C -- just shy of breaking a 47-year-old record.

But while the days ahead will continue to be unseasonably warm, sunseekers will be disappointed to hear that temperatures are unlikely to reach the sweltering heights of yesterday.

Met Eireann's weather station in the Phoenix Park recorded a top temperature of 20.3C, while a host of other stations -- including Casement in Dublin, Finner Camp and Malin in Co Donegal, and Ballhaise, Co Cavan -- all reached 20C.

And the rest of the country wasn't far behind.

Weather stations around the island recorded figures in the high teens, including Claremorris in Co Mayo, Shannon in Co Clare and Valentia in Co Kerry, which all reached a high of 19C.

Only the odd spot of sea mist in some coastal spots spoiled the wall-to-wall sunshine enjoyed by the rest of the country.

However, even the unusually warm weather was not hot enough to beat the records set in March 1965, when Dublin Airport recorded a high of 21.3C and the Phoenix Park came in at a sweltering 23.3C.

"It's extremely unusual. Temperatures at this time of year should really be in the very low double-figures at best," said Met Eireann forecaster Siobhan Ryan.

Warm

"It's due to a high pressure over the North Sea, which is intensifying and expanding.

It's a blocking high so it's keeping fronts well out to the Atlantic and to the north of Europe," she said.

And while much of the continent is enjoying the fine weather, Ireland is benefiting more than most.

"It's unseasonably warm and Ireland is experiencing the highest relative temperatures from this episode -- up to 8C above normal," said Ms Ryan.

Sun worshippers made the most of the hot weather yesterday as they flocked to beaches and parks -- with the inevitable traffic congestion as a result.

In Dublin, traffic was particularly heavy on routes to the seaside towns of Howth and Malahide.

Meanwhile, temperatures will continue in the mid-to-high teens today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

However, those planning a trip to the beach can expect it to feel a little cooler due to the risk of onshore winds.

There is also a chance of sea fog rolling in from time to time.

From Thursday, there will be a gradual build-up of cloud and a corresponding fall in temperatures. However, it is expected to remain largely dry into next weekend.

Tonight will be cool with temperatures falling back to 4C or 5C and mist could thicken to fog in some places.

Irish Independent